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NFL Free Agency: Predicting Landing Spots For Top RBs Following Franchise Tag Deadline

The running back position has been one with great controversy over the last few years.

NFL owners have seemed unwilling to lock down their star running backs and this has caused turmoil around the league. It is happening once again following the franchise-tag deadline. Many stars across the league did not receive the franchise tag and will become free agents. This means there will be a lot of shuffling done in the backfield this offseason.

There is a clear hierarchy of running backs available but there are also rock-solid options, including D’Andre Swift. The Philadelphia Eagles might go in a different direction and this opens the door for teams like the Washington Commanders to swoop in.

Below, check out the five star backs that will be available and where they might end up.

Saquon Barkley, Houston Texans

The New York Giants mishandled the situation with Saquon Barkley from the start. At this time last year, the front office did not want to give Barkley a lucrative extension due to the fact that they had to pay Daniel Jones. They did not field trade offers for Barkley at the deadline and now, did not place the franchise tag on their star back.

This is telling for Barkley’s future in New York, especially since the cap was increased. It is clear that the Giants have a value for Barkley — and other teams do as well. One team that has a chance to overpay Barkley is the Houston Texans. This is a young team with a second-year head coach that burst onto the scene a bit prematurely. With CJ Stroud under center, Barkley would do wonders to help him avoid a sophomore slump.

We saw what Jones was able to do with Barkley healthy and in the backfield. Stroud would be able to do that and much more within the offense in Houston.

Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Henry gave an emotional speech after the season finale for the Tennessee Titans on their home field. This seemed like a foreshadow that Henry will be on another team for the first time in his career. At 30 years old, Henry might have a few good years left and wants to play for a contender.

The fit with Henry and the Baltimore Ravens seems like a good one. In fact, it seems too obvious to be true. The Ravens have been a run-first team since Lamar Jackson entered the league and have done it better than any other team in the league. This makes it even more head-scratching that the offense went away from the run during the AFC Championship Game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Henry would give the team a bruiser in the backfield to offset the legs of Jackson and Keaton Mitchell.

Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

The dynamic between Josh Jacobs and the Las Vegas Raiders has been an interesting one. After not coming to agreement on a long-term deal last year, the two sides came back together for one year. After some thoughts of moving on, it seems like the two sides could reunite.

Antonio Pierce is officially the head coach in Las Vegas. Davante Adams is still there on the offensive side of the ball while Maxx Crosby beefs up the defense. The starpower is there and this includes Jacobs. The team is already in need of a quarterback. Having to find a replacement running back would add another headache. Jacobs has been a workhorse in Las Vegas in recent years and is a valuable part of the offense.

Austin Ekeler, Chicago Bears

Jim Harbaugh is now in charge in Los Angeles. Even before his arrival, it seemed clear that Austin Ekeler was going to be available. The Chicago Bears are likely going to have a new quarterback and there could be a star running back to join.

The Bears hold the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and will likely use it on Caleb Williams. There will be a new franchise quarterback in Chicago and Ekeler would be the perfect dual-threat running back to pair with what they hope will be an elite talent under center.

Tony Pollard, Philadelphia Eagles

If Swift is leaving Philadelphia, and it seems like it is heading that way, the Eagles will be in search of a new starting running back. This is where Tony Pollard comes into play.

Pollard spent the early years of his career backing up Ezekiel Elliott and got his chance to be the No. 1 back this year. He put together a good year but did not produce like expected. Pollard could be on his way out of Dallas but might be able to stay in division.


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