Several big-name running backs are at the end of their NFL contracts and scheduled to hit the free agent market unless they re-sign with their existing teams or receive the franchise tag. So what are the latest news and rumors from around the league? Here’s a quick breakdown of what people were saying at the Senior Bowl surrounding Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, and Josh Jacobs.
NFL News and Rumors: Will the Cowboys Franchise Tag Tony Pollard?
Tony Pollard is expected to receive the franchise tag from the Dallas Cowboys. With his four-year rookie contract coming to an end, Pollard has put together his two best seasons so far. This past year, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and added nearly 400 more through the air. He was the most dynamic weapon this Cowboys offense had, raking in nine rushing touchdowns with another three receiving.
At the same time, people in Mobile believe Ezekiel Elliott, who is scheduled to make $16.7 million this coming season, will take a large pay cut. Since signing a massive six-year, $90 million deal back in 2019, Elliott’s production has done nothing but go downhill. He is technically still young, only 27 years old, but for a running back, that is borderline.
The reality is that Dallas hasn’t been shy about using Elliott as much as possible since they gave him his big money deal. In the seven years he’s been with the Cowboys, Elliott’s rushed the ball a whopping 1,881 times.
With Dallas having an out in his contract this offseason, they could cut Elliott and pay $11.8 million in dead money. A pay cut might be Elliott’s only option if he wants to remain in Dallas.
Jacobs and Raiders Heading Towards a Stalemate?
It was a consensus in Mobile that Las Vegas RB Josh Jacobs will be franchise tagged by the Raiders. Jacobs is one of the few first-round picks from the Mayock/Gruden regime that panned out. The Raiders selected Jacobs in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Alabama.
At this year’s Pro Bowl, Jacobs said that the two sides had yet to start contract negotiations, but that he expected them to begin next week. Unfortunately, he was also asked about the prospect of being tagged, to which he responded, “Hero turned villain.”
Clearly, Jacobs is hoping for a long-term extension and not a one-year stopgap. However, he’s made it clear that he wants to stay in Las Vegas.
“I’m not going to lie; this is where I want to be,” Jacobs said. “I’ve grown a fan base here, I’m deep into this organization, I’ve broke records, and I’ve built a home here. This is where I want to be, but at the same time, it’s gotta make sense. I’m not going to let them [the Raiders] come in and disrespect me or anything like that. So, it’s just gotta make sense.”
The young RB is coming off the best season of his career, rushing for a career-high 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns in 17 games. If the team were to franchise tag Jacobs, he would account for just $10 million against the salary cap. That would put him well below guys like Christian McCaffrey, Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, and Derrick Henry.
Saquon Barkley and the Giants Looking To Extend?
The belief is the New York Giants will retain Saquon Barkley by re-signing him before free agency opens up. It’s been widely reported that the two sides are negotiating with the hopes of reaching a new deal.
Barkley is coming off one of his best seasons, where he rebounded from an injury-plagued 2021. He played 16 games of the regular season, missing one when the team was resting their starters. Barkley finished the year with 1,312 rushing yards, good for fourth in the NFL. He also had 10 rushing touchdowns.