Top Free Agent Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry Headline This Year’s Star-Studded Group

Who leads this year's group of free agent running backs? Will names like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry earn hefty new deals in 2024?

One of the more heated debates in NFL circles revolves around the value of running backs.

Before the 2023 season began, the position took front and center after no single star running back was given an extension. This led to contract holdouts from Saquon Barkley with the New York Giants and Josh Jacobs with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Others, like Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers and Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans, became vocal about the financial positioning of the RB in today’s league landscape. Fast forward to the 2024 offseason, and these four names are among the list of top free agent running backs ahead of the upcoming free agency cycle.

2024 Top Free Agent Running Backs

The following ranking is from Pro Football Network’s NFL analyst Dallas Robinson.

1) Saquon Barkley
2) Josh Jacobs
3) Derrick Henry
4) Tony Pollard
5) Austin Ekeler
6) D’Andre Swift
7) Zack Moss
8) J.K. Dobbins
9) Devin Singletary
10) Antonio Gibson

Star Running Backs Available Include Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry

Saquon Barkley opted to accept a one-year franchise tag to remain with the Giants last season. But this time around, he’s expected to be a top priority for teams seeking a backfield boost.

Despite being limited to 14 starts, he still scored 10 total touchdowns and racked up 1,242 all-purpose yards. At 27, he still has youthful legs left. Teams needing to improve their 2023 rushing numbers or franchises seeking one more piece to their Super Bowl aspirations could use Barkley.

Between Josh Jacobs and Barkley, the Raiders star appears to be the one with the highest chance of staying put. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano on Feb. 10, the Raiders have an interest in luring back their leading rusher.

But it’ll come down to price. He already accepted a one-year deal that paid him $12 million in August 2023. He responded with a career-low 805 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games.

Jacobs, though, appears to be won over by Antonio Pierce and the direction the new head coach has the Raiders going in. Despite his low ’23 production, Jacobs could still be in high demand for RB-needy teams, including the Raiders.

Meanwhile, how much power and speed is left in the legs of the 30-year-old Derrick Henry?

Although Henry may not be the 2,000-yard rusher he once was in 2020, he still earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2023 with his league-leading 280 carries for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns. Despite his age, Henry should be getting multiple calls for his services.

Tony Pollard, coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season, is the next best player available at the position. His 2023 season, however, was considered dismal compared to his 2022 Pro Bowl campaign, as his average yards per carry dropped from 5.2 to 4.0. Still, there’ll likely be teams convinced that he can recapture his Pro Bowl side.

Austin Ekeler may have gone over 1,000 combined yards for the third straight season. But his 2023 was a disaster — from seeking a trade, facing contract issues, having an inability to stay healthy due to an ankle ailment, and enduring the 5-12 mark with the Chargers.

But with his past as an ultra-productive runner/receiver, he could be a valuable veteran presence for someone in ’24.

After the top-five, the next best two running backs that will be hitting the open market are D’Andre Swift and Zack Moss.

Swift made the Pro Bowl as an alternate selection after delivering his first career 1,000-yard campaign while with the Philadelphia Eagles.

MORE: PFN’s Top 100 Free Agents 2024

Swift, though, was in the final year of his rookie deal with the Detroit Lions when he was traded to Philly. Now that his rookie deal is expiring, he’s eligible for his next deal.

Like Swift, Moss is coming off the best season of his career, which was also the final year of his rookie deal. In his second season with the Indianapolis Colts, Moss produced career-highs in both rushing yards (794) and touchdowns (seven).

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

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