Monday was a sad day for running backs, as franchise-tagged RBs Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs were unable to reach long-term deals with the Giants and Raiders. This means that they will both have to play the 2023 season for $10.1 million and not get the long-term contracts they sought. Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry and others took to social media to let out their frustrations over the situation, as running backs are underappreciated in the NFL. Receivers like Christian Kirk can make $18 million per season, but Josh Jacobs only makes $10 million — something feels very wrong with that.
Both Barkley and Jacobs are now faced with a choice: Play this season under the franchise tag, or hold out and be fined, with very little to gain in return. It’s not a great situation for either. I fully expect that they will eventually both sign contracts, with assurances from their clubs that they will not be tagged again next season. If you have the stomach, I would still draft Barkley in the second round, and I think he will end up playing Week 1. Jacobs will likely go in the third round, and I can see him missing one or two games at the beginning of the season as he ramps up to game shape.
Regardless, two bell cow running backs moving down draft boards makes the remaining ones even more valuable.