The 2023 free-agent running back market is about to thin out. According to reports from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys are preparing to use the franchise tag on Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard if long-term deals can’t be reached by the March 7 deadline.
If both running backs are tagged — or signed to multi-year deals by their teams — the odds Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery returns in 2023 drop quite a bit.
Jacobs, who entered the NFL as a first-round pick in the same draft year as Montgomery, finished the 2022 season as the league’s leading rusher with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Pollard had the best season of his career last year. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time (1,007). He scored 12 total touchdowns.
With both running backs likely off the open market, teams searching for new starters will have fewer options. New York Giants star Saquon Barkley remains a possibility, but rumors from the NFL Combine suggest QB Daniel Jones is on the verge of signing a lucrative contract. If he signs before March 7, New York can franchise Barkley and keep him in a Giants uniform for at least 2023.
Miles Sanders, the Philadelphia Eagles starter who ran for 1,269 yards In 2022, should hit the open market. At this point, he might be the only running back who appeals to more teams than Montgomery.