Two years after topping 1,000 rushing yards and cementing his status as the Colts' lead running back, Marlon Mack is on the verge of departing Indianapolis altogether. Or at least that's what both he and the Colts are trying to ensure, with ESPN and NFL Media reporting Tuesday that the two sides have mutually agreed to seek a trade for the 25-year-old back. Mack re-signed with Indy on a one-year contract this March after missing all but one game in 2020 due to injury, but with Jonathan Taylor established as the team's new No. 1 ball-carrier and change-of-pace option Nyheim Hines recently extended, he is "hoping for opportunities elsewhere."
If the Colts end up dealing Mack, it likely won't be for much. The former fourth-round pick is due $2 million this season, will return to free agency in 2022, and has barely had a role this year, taking 13 snaps in the first two weeks and then sitting out Week 3 against the Titans as a healthy scratch. Which teams, however, could come calling about his availability? Here are potential landing spots:
Clyde Edwards-Helaire hit 100 yards against the Chargers in Week 3, but he hasn't exactly lit it up this year, with Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon serving as the only relievers in the backfield. Kansas City will be just fine offensively as is, but they've taken low-risk gambles on running back help before (see: LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell), and Mack has the makings of a guy who could warrant a sizable share of carries for a playoff run.
Coming off an embarrassing Monday night defeat in which they fed running backs just three (!) carries, the obvious answer for the Eagles is to simply involve Miles Sanders more. But they toyed with a veteran complement in the offseason, taking a flyer on Kerryon Johnson and keeping Jordan Howard on the practice squad. With rookie Kenneth Gainwell reserved mostly for pass-catching duties, Mack would be a low-risk addition to beef up a run game that must improve. More than that, he's got some big advocates on Philly's staff, including former Colts coaches Nick Sirianni, Jemal Singleton and Kevin Patullo.
Kyle Shanahan obviously wants to run the ball, but he was forced to lean on rookie Trey Sermon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk in Week 3 to middling results. He clearly doesn't trust Sermon yet, and while fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell has flashed, the latter is also coming off an injury while filling in for the also-injured Raheem Mostert. San Francisco intends to be a contender in a crowded NFC West, so it can definitely afford a low-risk gamble on another piece for their running back rotation.
They spent a fourth-round pick on Chuba Hubbard precisely for this kind of moment, with dual-threat star Christian McCaffrey banged up again. And you can do worse than Royce Freeman as a fill-in No. 2. But who knows whether McCaffrey's hamstring will hold up down the stretch, even after he returns. Carolina is suddenly 3-0 and confirmed its plans to take advantage of the hot start by trading for cornerback C.J. Henderson, so another move to bolster the backfield seems right up their alley.
They've left no stone unturned in the wake of a freakish streak of injuries at running back, with Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le'Veon Bell all coming aboard in some capacity to fill in for J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. While Murray and Ty'Son Williams probably give them enough on the ground, they still don't seem sold on the latter, and there's no team that counts on the run game as much as they do. Mack would instantly become a candidate to split carries with Murray and/or Williams if he joined the group.