The new league year is set to begin on March 15th at 4 p.m. eastern time and that means one of the most exciting dates on the calendar, NFL free agency. There are many high-profile names available in 2023 and one of the markets to pay attention to is the running back position. With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look at what these group of backs bring to the table as we head toward NFL free agency.
(Starting on March 13, 2023, teams can legally negotiate with players and agents beginning at noon ET)
2023 NFL Free Agency: Top Five Running Backs
If there was any doubt about Saquon Barkley‘s performance due to health, he put that to rest with a dominant 2022. In 16 games, he rushed for 1,312 yards and 10 touchdowns on 293 carries while also bringing in 338 yards through the air on 57 catches. While Daniel Jones had a career year under center, the New York Giants’ identity always reverted back to Barkley all season long. After injury concerns over the past two seasons, he came out and showed everyone why he is one of the most dynamic and explosive backs in the game. Barkley isn’t only the best running back on the market but the second-best overall free agent in NFL.
On a mission after the Las Vegas Raiders declined his fifth-year option before the season, Josh Jacobs put together a masterful year. After taking the teams’ decision to heart, he led the league in rushing with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns while also having a career-high 400 yards receiving. Jacob’s impressive performance earned him First-Team All-Pro honors and fifth in the Offensive Player of the Year voting. He’s shown this in years past, as he put together a 1000-yard performance in his first two seasons but now he just took it to another level in a contract year that will bode well out on the open market.
Due to a breakout year that saw him have a 1,000-yard season with nine touchdowns, Tony Pollard rose his stock to make him one of the top running backs headed into NFL free agency. Along with his career year on the ground, Pollard also averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per carry, third-most among running backs. He added a career-high 371 yards through the air with three touchdowns. Even though he shares snaps with Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard has shown to be the more explosive and reliable option. All signs point to the Dallas Cowboys taking Pollard off the market with a hefty contract, but he would get a lot of offers elsewhere if it came to it.
A big reason why the Philadelphia Eagles were successful in making a trip to the Super Bowl is because of Miles Sanders, who had by far the best season of his career. At 25 years of age, he accumulated 1,269 yards on 4.9 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns, earning him his first Pro Bowl selection. If Sanders could get back to being the duel threat running back in his rookie season when he tallied 800+ yards on the ground and 500+ yards through the air, Sanders could be as dangerous as anyone in the league.
With his duel-threat presence, David Montgomery will get a few good offers come NFL free agency. He hit 1,000 yards rushing in his second season in the league with the Chicago Bears, while having 800+ yards in the other three years. He’s also had 300+ yards receiving the last three years, including a 400-yard season as a sophomore back. In the right offense, Montgomery has the potential to explode and have a career year in 2023.
Other Notable Free Agent Running Backs
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