Top NFL Free Agent Running Backs

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Hard to believe that we are less than a month away from free agency in the NFL. Beginning on Tuesday, February 20, teams can begin using the franchise tag. The deadline for using the tag is March 5.

The New York Giants have said that they will not use the tag for a second straight year on running back Saquon Barkley. That will make him one of the top free agent running backs on the market when the feeding frenzy begins next month. If teams do use a franchise tag on a running back, the cost will be $11.3 million.

Saquon Barkley

Barkley is still only 27, but he’s coming off a down season after an incredible 2022. He did still score 10 total touchdowns, and he remains a workhorse that is good in the run and passing game. And to be fair to Barkley, the entire Giants offense took a big step back in 2023, and he may have just been a victim, rather than a cause.

The Giants say that they will meet with Barkley’s agent during the scouting session which begins next week, and New Jersey online sportsbooks think that Barkley is staying in the Meadowlands. The Giants are paying -150 to be Barkley’s team in 2024, with the Houston Texans second at +275.

D’Andre Swift

In a rare trade that worked out for both teams, last year the Detroit Lions sent D’Andre Swift to the Philadelphia Eagles. The absence of Swift paved the way for Lions rookie Jahmyr Gibbs to have his breakout season, and Swift went to Philly and had his own breakout season.

Swift just turned 25 three weeks ago, and he’s coming off the first 1,000-yard season of his career. Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman hasn’t re-signed a running back since LeSean McCoy in 2012, and with a very cheap Kenneth Gainwell on the roster, Swift may too be expensive to stick in Philly for another year. has Swift’s free agent contract market value at four years for $27 million.

Josh Jacobs

A year ago, Josh Jacobs was the NFL rushing champion and hoping to get paid. Instead, he got tagged by the Las Vegas Raiders and had to settle for a one-year contract extension that sets him up with another off-season of negotiations.

The major problem for Jacobs is that he is now coming off a very bad year after rushing for only 805 yards (a career low) and 3.5 yards per carry (a career low). His six total touchdowns were also a career low.

Is there still a future in Las Vegas for the 26-year-old? Nevada online sportsbooks say yes, and they have the Raiders as the -200 favorites to re-sign him. The Los Angeles Chargers are paying the next shortest odds at +750.

Derrick Henry

Of the top running backs on the market this off-season, Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry is the only one that is favored to change teams. Tennessee online sportsbooks have the Baltimore Ravens at +200 to be his home in 2024, with the Eagles at +500 and the Dallas Cowboys at +550. The Titans are eighth on the betting list, paying +1000.

Henry has a lot of mileage on his tires, with more than 2,000 carries in his career and more than 300 touches in four of his last five years. But he is still an effective back, rushing for more than 1,000 yards for the fifth time in his career. He also reached double digits in touchdowns for the sixth straight year.

He’s 30, but he’s still playing at a Pro Bowl level, and someone will give him a contract this off-season.

Tony Pollard

From 2019 to 2022, we all wondered just how good Tony Pollard would be if he became the featured back in Dallas. In 2023, we got a chance to see it, and it came with mixed results.

The good – Pollard ran for more than 1,000 yards and caught 55 passes out of the backfield. The bad – his efficiency fell off a cliff, going from 5.2 yards per carry in 2022, to a career-low 4.0 yards per carry last year. He also managed to score just six touchdowns, despite more than 300 touches.

Cowboys pass rusher Micah Parsons is lobbying for the team to re-sign Pollard and give him “another shot.” But a big contract extension is coming up for Parsons, as well as for wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. With other low-cost options available at running back, Pollard may be too expensive to keep.

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