Packers face competition from Patriots for RB James Starks

James Starks is drawing interest from the Patriots. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers want James Starks to return to their backfield, but now they have competition for his services.

According to a source Thursday, the team has told Starks that they’re interested in re-signing the veteran running back. This comes on the same day that Starks visited the New England Patriots, as ESPN’s Adam Caplan first reported.

Running backs flew off the market during the first day of free agency Wednesday. Among them was Matt Forte, who signed with the New York Jets for a reported $12 million over three years (including $8 million guaranteed).

The 30-year-old Starks is coming off his most productive season, with a career-high 601 yards. He bounced back and forth between backing up Eddie Lacy and starting in his place while Lacy was both injured (one game) and when Lacy was in coach Mike McCarthy’s doghouse for being out of shape.

His five fumbles, which doubled his career total, were the only ugly mark on Starks’ season.

At this point, the only running backs the Packers have under contract are Lacy and John Crockett, an undrafted rookie last season who was promoted from the practice squad in December.

Starks was a free agent two years ago. Just as he started to draw interest from other teams, the Packers re-signed him for $3,165,626 over two seasons. It included just $725,000 guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus.

At least one other Packers free agent made a visit Thursday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that backup quarterback Scott Tolzien visited the Indianapolis Colts and also has drawn interest from the Chicago Bears.