Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and several other veteran running backs are still available on the free agent market. Which teams present the ideal landing spot for each player?
The running back discourse in the NFL is a hot-button topic. Star ball carriers are calling for more job security and a raise in pay while the owners scoff and call their bluff. To this point, Le’Veon Bell is the only superstar running back to make good on his threats by sitting out the entire season. He did so in 2018.
In turn, the former Steeler finally hit free agency and had control over his own destiny. Unfortunately for every running back to come after Bell, the signing failed for his new team. The New York Jets forked over $52.5 million to bring Bell to the Big Apple. That pairing lasted all of 17 games.
Since then, the position has witnessed several lucrative contracts, but very few players actually played out these deals. Most got cut or forced into a restructure. This offseason only further exacerbated the issue.
The running back position remains at the forefront of NFL offseason discussions
Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard all got slapped with the franchise tag after failing to reach an agreement with their respective teams. Pollard signed his franchise tag tender and will play on the one-year pact for the Cowboys in 2023. Barkley agreed to an adjusted one-year deal with the Giants, seeing $12 million instead of the $10.1 million Pollard will receive. Jacobs is a different story.
The 2022 first-team All-Pro is continuing his holdout as training camps begin. He is reportedly not in the Vegas area and has no interest in signing the franchise tag. Jacobs seeks a salary in line with the best of the best at the position after solidifying his place amongst them last season. Alas, the Raiders front office hasn’t budged on his contract demands.
The current state of affairs is mired in hostility — to say the least. Tensions boiled over between Colts owner Jim Irsay and Jonathan Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa on Twitter last week. Irsay sent a tweet supporting his fellow owners while also taking a not-so-subtle jab at agents.
This post led to Kawa barking back at Irsay. Taylor’s agent went on to say in a later tweet that the relationship between the star running back and the Colts is irreparable. Soon after, Taylor formally requested a trade from the franchise that drafted him in 2020. It is unclear how this situation will unfold, but make no mistake, every other running back in the league is paying attention.
Ideal landing spots for Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and other free agent running backs
These represent only a few interesting storylines surrounding the running back position. But what about the other running backs still available on the open market?
There are multiple players capable of leading an NFL backfield in 2023. Another handful of ball carriers would be perfect secondary options, either as pass catchers or change-of-pace backs. Here is one ideal pairing for the remaining big-name running backs in free agency.