Ok, so we all know that if Edge were to retire today, he most certainly would never be elected to the Hall of Fame. The bigger question though is how close is he. I was surprised when I looked at the career stats for running backs and saw how high James was in most of the categories. Granted stats alone won't tell you the whole story but it's definitely a starting point.
With that being said, we'll look at where he is heading into the 2008, where he could be after the 2008 season, and where he could be after 2009 when he'll be a free agent. In order to set the table, I'll assume that James will stay healthy and be as productive as he's been during his two seasons in Arizona meaning he'll get 1,200 yards rushing, 200 yards receiving and 6 total touchdowns in 2008. Just for the sake of being conservative based on his age and the possibility of the Cardinals attempting to groom a replacement, lets assume that he gets only 1,000 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving and 4 total touchdowns. Those might be overly optimistic projections in the eyes of some but an improved and stable offensive line and appropriate play calling should make those numbers easily attainable.
First, ranking thirteenth on the all-time rushing list is impressive enough and if memory serves every back ahead of him on that list who is eligible is already in the Hall of Fame. If we add 1,200 yards to that total, Edge would jump to seventh on the list and if we project two seasons out, Edge would rank 5th with just over 13,800 yards rushing. He'd also be within arms reach of Curtis Martin at fourth who would be just under 300 yards ahead of him. Obviously the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson is going to pass Edge at some point in the future, but other than LT the next back who has any realistic shot of jumping into the top ten is Washington's Clinton Portis. He's currently has 7,715 yards at 26 years old. Still though, it's very conceivable that James could rank in the top 5 in terms of rushing yards before his career ends and that alone might be enough to get him in.
Edge is obviously helped out in this department the gaudy receiving stats that he put up in Indy, but he's still an above average back out of the backfield. If we project James to get about 1,400 yards from scrimmage during 2008, he would jump to 10th on the all-time list, and just inches (well actually 26 yards) from the former Cowboy, Tony Dorsett, in ninth. If we look past the 2009 season and project another 1,100 yards, Edge would then rank eighth all time, less than 100 yards behind former Jet and Patriot, Curtis Martin. He'd also be less than 300 yards behind former Raider and Chief Marcus Allen for 6th all-time.
Obviously Edge's career probably won't end after the 2009 season, but it's likely that he'll have to become part of a two back system (something he's never done) or be regulated to back-up duty entirely. By these projections, he would be right on the heels of Curtis Martin in both rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage so whether or not Martin gets in could directly effect Edge if he can't pass him. Edge and Martin both have similar touchdown totals as well with Martin currently having 13 more rushing and 12 more total. The big picture says Edge, if he can produce two more productive seasons, should be on the door step of the Hall of Fame. He'd rank in the top 5 all-time in yards rushing and top 10 in total yards from scrimmage. That totaled with his four Pro Bowls and 1 All-Pro team should be enough to get his foot in the door. What do you guys think, is he a Hall of Famer in your mind?