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2015 NFL free agents: DeMarco Murray, Mark Ingram top running backs available

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Running backs are being devalued in today's game, but there are still plenty of difference makers on the market.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Running back is a weird position in the NFL as far as value is concerned. Time and time again, running backs change the game, but with the success of rookie running backs over the past couple seasons, teams are unwilling to offer up huge contracts for veteran runners on the open market. However, the 2015 free agency running back class is pretty strong, one of the better classes in recent years.

There are a couple of big-name players, and plenty who have shown flashes, whether earlier in their careers or this past season. Nobody ever really knows what the top free agent running backs will earn, but we can at least identify who those running backs are and what they can offer to prospective teams.

Teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets are among the most needy when it comes to the running back position, and all could be putting some big money into the position heading into next season. Here's a look at some of the top names set to hit the market:

1. DeMarco Murray (Dallas Cowboys)

Murray may have ultimately fallen short of breaking the NFL record for rushing yards this past season, but he was indisputably the best back in the league and looked the part even down the stretch. Much will be said about Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, and the success they had on offense. But Murray was the key difference from 2013 and 2014 -- he was the catalyst for their success and the biggest reason they finished atop the NFC East. He should be getting a huge contract, much higher than the rest of his class.

Update: Murray signed a five-year, $42 million contract with the Eagles.

2. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)

Ingram was something of a disappointment in his first three seasons, dealing with injuries and lacking playing time, but he came into his own in 2014. He carried the ball 226 times for 964 yards with nine touchdowns. That was good for an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Still, he played in only 13 games due to some injuries, and that's his biggest concern thus far. He fits the bill of an every-down back, but teams will probably be reluctant to give him a long-term contract for more than a couple of seasons.

Update: Ingram agreed to a four-year deal with the Saints.

3. Ryan Mathews (San Diego Chargers)

Mathews is a talented player with an injury history a mile long. After the Chargers took him out of Fresno State in 2010, Mathews has missed 20 games, including 10 in 2014. Mathews has two 1,000-yard seasons to his name and can also catch the ball out of the backfield, registering 146 career receptions. With the Chargers are likely to let Mathews walk, where is the right fit? The Indianapolis Colts seem like a nice destination, giving Andrew Luck a good back who can also prove a good safety valve. Mathews will get a smaller contract compared to other talented backs due to his injury history, and could prove to be a nice find.

Update: Mathews agreed on a three-year, $11.5 million deal with the Eagles.

4. Justin Forsett (Baltimore Ravens)

Forsett is a tricky evaluation. After bouncing among three teams in five years, Forsett landed with the Ravens and took advantage of an unsettling running back situation. Forsett earned his first Pro Bowl berth with 1,266 rushing yards on a 5.4 yards-per-carry average. Baltimore does not have a ton of salary cap flexibility, perhaps being forced to let Forsett test free-agency waters. The main question here is whether interested teams will offer contracts based off his 2014 performance.

Update: Forsett signed a three-year deal to remain with the Ravens.

5. C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills)

Spiller, much like Mathews, is a talented player with question marks due to durability. Spiller has amassed only one 1,000-yard campaign while splitting time with Fred Jackson. In 2014, Spiller played in nine games after sustaining a broken collarbone. He has generally been able to dress on game days but too often gets nicked up and has to sit on the sideline. A first-round pick for the Bills in 2010, Spiller is likely headed out of town since Buffalo needs to shore up other areas and with limited cap space.

Update: Spiller signed a deal with the Saints.

Other notable names

Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers)

Gore has enjoyed a tremendous career, gaining 11,073 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Still, he turns 32 in May and might have a tough time finding a sizable contract.

Update: Gore signed a three-year, $12 million deal with Indianapolis.

Shane Vereen (New England Patriots)

Vereen's stock went up after catching 11 passes in the Super Bowl. A young, versatile back, Vereen is going to have a nice market awaiting him.

Update: Vereen signed a three-year, $12.35 million deal with the Giants.

Ahmad Bradshaw (Indianapolis Colts)

Bradshaw has always had a tough time staying healthy. In 2014, he looked good before going down with a broken fibula 10 games into the season.