NFL Offseason Financial Analysis: Running Backs

NFL Offseason Financial Analysis: Running Backs

As the 2023 NFL offseason closes in, Spotrac's Positional Breakdown series continues with a deep dive into the financial statuses of each team's running back position, including rostered players, remaining term & guarantees, and stability at the starting & backup roles.



Arizona Cardinals

Status: Seeking a Wing Man

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $20M

James Conner will enter year 2 of a 3 year $21M deal signed last March. His $5.75M salary for 2023 is already fully guaranteed, and his $7.75M of base pay could be restructured in order to reduce a sizable $10M cap number.

The depth behind him remains at large, as 2022 6th round pick Keaontay Ingram (3 years $2.9M non-guaranteed) projects as the 2023 RB2 currently. There’s an add to be made here.


Atlanta Falcons

Status: Run it Back?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $69M

Cordarrelle Patterson will soon be 32 years old, and his cap hit for 2023 ($5.5M) more than doubles its current state ($2.5M). There’s at least $1.75M of cap to free up here, but keeping the veteran in tow with what is assumed to be a rookie QB probably makes good sense.

2022 5th round pick Tyler Allgeier (3 years, $2.9M non-guaranteed) has already earned top-billing snaps, and projects to be the 2023 starter right now, barring a free agent signing. The Falcons have plenty of other holes to fill before the RB position should be addressed.

Baltimore Ravens

Status: Seeking Durability.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $43M

JK Dobbins will enter a contract year in 2023, set to play out a non-guaranteed $1.4M salary next season. The former #55 overall selection has missed more time than not, making him a strong candidate to be replaced in 2024. Will that happen this March?

27-year-old Gus Edwards has seen as much (or little) action as Dobbins over the past two seasons, and will enter 2023 on a non-guaranteed $5.6M cap hit. Baltimore likely takes the $4.3M to be saved by moving on next March.

Buffalo Bills

Status: Next Man Up

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$3.5M

2022 2nd rounder James Cook has already started to garner more attention in the Bills’ offense, and, with Devin Singletary slated for free agency, it stands to reason that he’ll be handed the keys to the show in 2023. Cook’s rookie deal holds 3 years, $3.7M remaining, including a fully guaranteed $970k salary next season.

Behind him, former Colts weapon Nyheim Hines (acquired at the trade deadline), brings a 2 year, $10.2M non-guaranteed contract with him to the offseason, including cap hits of $4.8M & $5.4M respectively. Buffalo can clear it all with a trade or release this spring.

Devin Singletary projects to a deal around $5.5M per year in our system.

Carolina Panthers

Status: Reinstate the Foreman

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $1.75M

Carolina didn’t miss a beat after trading Christian McCaffrey out west, with D'Onta Foreman & Chuba Hubbard combining for big production down the stretch. Foreman is a pending free agent, currently carrying a $3.5M valuation in our system, and should be strongly considered as a sign back for the Panthers.

Hubbard’s rookie deal contains 2 years, $1.9M remaining, none of it guaranteed.

Chicago Bears

Status: Back Before Forward

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $119M

25-year-old David Montgomery is a pending unrestricted free agent this March, projecting to a 3 year, $21M deal in our system. It stands to reason that Khalil Herbert (2 years, $1.9M non-guaranteed) is already on the roster.

2022 6th rounder Trestan Ebner (3 years, $2.9M non-guaranteed) could be inline for a bigger role next season, but the Bears need to develop both of their trenches before sinking significant capital into more offensive weapons, so don’t be surprised if a low cost veteran or two are added to the mix here as a hold over plan.

Oh and by the way, the guy taking the snaps is a 1,000 yard rusher himself.


Cincinnati Bengals

Status: Possible Shake Up?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $48.8M

Joe Mixon was utilized out of the backfield more than ever in 2022, a good way to extend your shelf life as an NFL running back. The 26-year-old holds 2 years, $20.4M non-guaranteed left on his contract, including cap hits of $12.8M & $13.1M respectively. Cincy likely converts some of his $9.4M base salary into bonus to free up cap space, but Mixon should be locked in for the 2023 season either way.

RB2 Samaje Perine did more than enough to warrant a free agent contract, projecting to $3M per year on the open market, while 2021 6th rounder Chris Evans brings a 2 year, $2.9M non-guaranteed deal into the offseason.


Cleveland Browns

Status: Chubb Complements

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$5.8M

$2.8M of Nick Chubb’s $10.85M salary for 2023 is already fully guaranteed. He’s also very good. A slight restructure on his $14.85M cap figure is probably in the cards, but lock him into RB1 for another season in Cleveland.

Pending free agent Kareem Hunt saw his role drastically reduced in 2022, which could dampen his value on the open market. There’s a world where he’s still a $5M weapon in the right offense, and another where he’s $1.75M Boston Scott as the 3rd option somewhere else.

RB3 D’Ernest Johnson is also a pending free agent, likely headed for another at or near minimum salary.


Dallas Cowboys

Status: Change of the Guard

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $6.5M

Ezekiel Elliott’s mega deal still contains 4 years, $52.9M left on it - but none of it comes with an early guarantee. Dallas can free up at least $4.8M to move on from Zeke this March ($10.9M with a Post 6/1 designation). For 31 other franchises, this would be a slam dunk cap casualty, but Jerry Jones loves to keep his bands together.

Tony Pollard has done more than enough to warrant an RB1 role in this league, and is set for unrestricted free agency this March. He projects to a 3 year, $25M deal in our system. Will Zeke’s release make way for a new Pollard contract in Dallas?


Denver Broncos

Status: Wide Open

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $13.3M

Javonte Williams will be recovering from a torn ACL this winter, but still pencils in as the 2023 RB1, with 2 years, $3.3M non-guaranteed remaining on his rookie contract.

Chase Edmonds, acquired at the deadline from Miami carries a non-guaranteed $6M cap figure in 2023, and is a slam dunk release candidate. There are at least 2 RB holes to fill this offseason.

Detroit Lions

Status: Double Extensions?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $28.5M

D'Andre Swift will be entering a contract year in 2023, set to earn a non-guaranteed $1.7M. The 23 year old has missed a few games in each of his first 3 seasons, but still projects to a 4 year, $26M contract in our system.

Behind him (barely) Jamaal Williams is headed back to unrestricted free agency, with 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 14 TDs under his belt. He’d be headed for solid pay day if he weren’t a few months away from 28 years of age. He still gets a $4M valuation in our system for his efforts.

Green Bay Packers

Status: 1 and Done?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$9.4M

Aaron Jones just turned 28 last month, and none of 2 years, $28M remaining on his contract is currently guaranteed, but it’s hard to imagine the Packers punting on another weapon this March. His $20M cap hit for 2023 is a problem, but restructuring a $7M March roster bonus can ease that cost.

A.J. Dillon continues to put up consistently above average production as the RB1b in Green Bay, and he’ll enter a contract year in 2023 (non-guaranteed $1.3M). The yards per carry have gradually diminished a bit since he entered the league, but so has the Green Bay offense around him. It’ll be interesting to follow how the Packers handle their two backfield options over the next 18 months.


Houston Texans

Status: Value Plays

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $47M

2022 4th round pick Dameon Pierce seems to be the next value hit at the running back position, with 3 years, $2.9M remaining on his rookie deal.

Behind him, Dare Ogunbowale carries a $1.55M cap hit for 2023, with $1.4M that could be freed up as needed. Veteran Rex Burkhead is slated for unrestricted free agency.


Indianapolis Colts

Status: Taylor’s Team.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $27M

Jonathan Taylor’s 2022 was limited to just 11 games due to an ankle injury, and his yards per attempt dropped from 5.5 to 4.5 as well. Taylor becomes extension eligible this winter (projecting to a $13M per year deal), and as the lone bright spot on the offensive side of the ball, is now in the Christian McCaffrey/Panthers zone.

Zack Moss, acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, holds a non-guaranteed $1.1M salary in the final year of his rookie deal, 


Jacksonville Jaguars

Status: Extension Year for Etienne.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$18M

Travis Etienne’s rookie deal holds 2 years, $4.2M (guaranteed) + a 5th year option in 2025. He’ll become extension eligible for the first time after 2023.

Behind him, JaMycal Hasty is headed for restricted free agency, and with the Jags in cap trouble, could be considered a non-tender candidate. 2022 5th round pick Snoop Conner holds 3 years, $2.9M non-guaranteed remaining on his rookie deal.


Kansas City Chiefs

Status: Moving on from CEH

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $18M

Isiah Pacheco, the #251 pick in this past draft, posted nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first campaign, and is the early favorite to snag the majority of 2023 snaps in KC. His 3 year, $2.9M non-guaranteed contract offers major upside value.

The Chiefs will need to decide on Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 2024 option this coming May, and early signs point to a decline in that regard. His rookie contract holds a fully guaranteed $2M next season, and he enters the offseason as a potential trade candidate. Nearly 31 year old Jerick McKinnon was a viable weapon out of the backfield, and has to be considered for another contract this March. 


Las Vegas Raiders

Status: Jacobs’ About Face.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $33M

Nobody - not even the Raiders - saw this explosive season coming from Josh Jacobs, who’s going to win a rushing title in a contract year. He’s a franchise tag candidate (estimated $10M), and currently projects to a 4 year, $51M extension in our system.

33-year-old Brandon Bolden holds a $2.88M cap hit in 2023, $2.2M of which can be freed up in a release, while 2022 4th round pick Zamir White bring a non-guaranteed 3 year, $2.9M rookie contract into 2023.

Los Angeles Chargers

Status: Ekeler Still King. 

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$9.5M

Austin Ekeler remains a dominant versatile force in the league and will enter a contract year in 2023, set to earn a non guaranteed $5.75M. The Chargers have a few other mouths to feed (including QB1) this offseason, but a restructured extension for Ekeler, who will turn 28 next season, isn’t out of the question. He projects to a 3 year, $38M deal in our system.

Behind him, former 4th rounder Josh Kelley is entering the final year of his rookie contract, set to earn a non-guaranteed $1M, while 2022 4th round pick Isaiah Spiller brings a 3 year, $2.9M non-guaranteed rookie deal into 2023.


Los Angeles Rams

Status: Green Akers?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$2.6M

The once exiled Cam Akers found new life the finish off 2022, and now seems a sure bet to play out the final year of his rookie deal (non-guaranteed $1.4M), for the Rams next season.

2022 5th round pick Kyren Williams brings a non-guaranteed 3 year, $2.9M rookie deal into 2023, and should vie for the backup spot next season. There’s a weapon or two to be added here next March.


Miami Dolphins

Status: Crickets.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$6.9M

Raheem Mostert posted another 1,000+ yards from scrimmage campaign in 2022 and is slated for unrestricted free agency this March. The almost 31 year old is probably in the market for a deal around the $2.25M mark he cashed this season.

Jeff Wilson faced injuries and limited snaps when he was acquired from SF at the deadline, and he too will take his talents to the open market this spring. Will the Dolphins view the 27 year old as the better option going forward?

Salvon Ahmed, set for restricted free agency, is the only Dolphins running back under control for 2023.

Minnesota Vikings

Status: Still Cooking.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$7M

Dalvin Cook will enter Year 4 of a 6 year contract in Minnesota, with cap figures of $14.1M, $15.6M, & $13.5M to go respectively. The 27 year old has surpassed the 1,300 yards from scrimmage mark for the 4th straight season, finding the end zone 10+ times again as well. A simple base salary restructure can free up over $7.4M of cap space for the Vikings next season.

His RB2 for four seasons, Alexander Mattison, is now set for unrestricted free agency, holding a $2.25M valuation for his efforts thus far. There’s a world where a team views the 24 year old in a much bigger role.

2021 4th round pick Kene Nwangwu holds a non-guaranteed 2 year, $2M contract and should slide into the backup role next season.

New England Patriots

Status: Rhamondre’s Day.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $49M

Rhamondre Stevenson took the reins this season and his non-guaranteed 2 year, $2M remaining contract carries massive value potential. He’ll become extension eligible after 2023, but that doesn’t sound like the Patriots.

Damien Harris has shown true RB1 flashes in his 4 seasons with the Patriots, but he’ll head to the open market with red flags attached to him. Mathematically there’s a world where James Conner’s 3 year, $21M contract can be had, but with supply superseding demand this spring, his final price point likely comes in around half that.

2022 4th rounder Pierre Strong appears to have the goods to slot into the RB2 role going forward, holding a non-guaranteed 3 year, $2.9M contract going forward.


New Orleans Saints

Status: Kamara Getting Pricey

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$57M

Alvin Kamara will enter Year 4 of a 6 year contract in New Orleans, carrying cap hits of $16M, $16.9M, $27M respectively. $5M of his 2023 compensation is already fully guaranteed - but a potential suspension for an off-field issue could void those in the coming weeks. Assuming he sticks around, a full salary restructure can free up over $7.4M of cap space for the Saints in 2023.

Behind him, Eno Benjamin brings a non-guaranteed 1 year, $1M salary salary into 2023, while 33 year old Mark Ingram is once again headed for free agency.

New York Giants

Status: Tag, Sign, or Walk?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $56M

Saquon Barkley finally gave us that 1,500+ yards, 10+ TD season we’ve been craving since his rookie campaign back in 2018, putting himself in prime position to cash in this spring. The question of course is - how, and where? A $10M franchise tag isn’t out of the question, but that designation might need to be reserved for QB Daniel Jones this February. On a multi-year level, Barkley now projects to a 4 year, $50M extension.

Almost 28-year-old Matt Breida is heading back to the open market, while 2021 6th round pick Gary Brightwell will bring a 2 year, $2M non-guaranteed deal into the mix next season. For a lot of reasons, the Giants are a team to watch this spring.


New York Jets

Status: A Rare Surplus

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $15.9M

Breece Hall was on his way to a monster inaugural season before an ACL injury torpedoed his season. His 3 year, $4.6M remaining contract ($2.6M guaranteed) should be outstanding value for the up and coming Jets roster

2021 4th round pick Michael Carter (2 years, $1.9M) held his own in a reserve role, while Zonovan Knight (1 year, $870k) showed plenty of potential in a limited sample size.

With James Robinson, acquired at the deadline from Jacksonville, slated for restricted free agency this spring, do the Jets actually have too many horses in the barn for 2023?


Philadelphia Eagles

Status: Potential Budget Cuts

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $10.5M

Both Miles Sanders & Boston Scott are slated for unrestricted free agency next March, leaving Kenneth Gainwell (2 years, $1.9M), & Trey Sermon (2 years, $2.4M). Sanders put together his best rushing season by a mile, though his work as a receiver out of the backfield dipped a bit.

The Eagles have plenty of defensive holes to fill and a likely historic extension for Jalen Hurts to consider this spring. Will they be forced to go cheap at the RB position in 2023?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Status: All Good.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $13M

Najee Harris’ sophomore campaign won’t quite match the outstanding rookie season he posted, but he’s done plenty to supplant himself as one of the best young backs in the league. His rookie contract contains 2 years, $4.2M fully guaranteed plus an option in 2025, and he doesn’t become extension eligible until after the 2023 season.

UDFA Jaylen Warren stole the RB2 role away from other options this season and could be huge value for the Steelers with 2 years, $1.8M + restricted free agency in front of him still. Benny Snell Jr. is slated for unrestricted free agency this March.

San Francisco 49ers

Status: Worth It.

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $14.8M

Christian McCaffrey was the big move at the trade deadline - and he hasn’t disappointed one bit. None of the $36M remaining over the final three seasons of his contract is fully guaranteed, so the Niners can operate as needed going forward. A simple base salary restructure + two void years can free up $8.5M of cap space in 2023 if necessary. McCaffrey’s role further amplifies with uncertainty at the QB position staring SF in the face.

Elijah Mitchell missed the majority of 2022 with an MCL sprain, but should bring excellent value in a complementary role to CMC with 2 years, $1.9M non-guaranteed remaining on his rookie contract. While UDFA Jordan Mason has shown well in a limited sample set, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt thus far.

Seattle Seahawks

Status: Keep Ken Healthy

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $49.4M

If he can stay healthy, Kenneth Walker III will remain a huge focal point in the Seahawks’ offense. His rookie deal contains 3 years, $4.2M ($2M guaranteed) through 2025.

Behind him, DeeJay Dallas (1 year, $1M) remains the only other back signed into 2023, while Rashaad Penny & Travis Homer are slated for unrestricted free agency.

Signing a vet for depth and injury protection purposes seems relevant here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Status: Potential Buyout?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$43M

Leonard Fournette signed a $21M contract last March that fully guaranteed $2M of his 2023 salary. Another $2M is set to lock in on March 19th, all but securing the 28 year old for next season. If the Bucs really want to move on, they can take on a $5M dead cap ($2M cash) and release him prior to March 19th, freeing up $3.5M of cap space. Otherwise, a full base salary restructure can free up $4.3M of cap space for the Bucs for 2023.

Behind (aside) him, 2022 3rd round pick Rachaad White put up formidable numbers in his rookie campaign, and likely finds more touches next season. His rookie deal contains 3 years, $3.5M non-guaranteed through 2025. 2020 3rd rounder Ke'Shawn Vaughn barely found the field in 2022, putting his $1.46M cap hit ($1.2M to be saved) on heavy notice.

Tennessee Titans

Status: Long Live the King

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: -$17.5M

28 year old Derrick Henry damn near posted 2,000 yards from scrimmage again, and he found the end zone as much as ever. A career high in fumbles is certainly worrisome, and a $16.3M cap hit for 2023 is definitely a problem, but it seems extremely likely that Henry is back in Tennessee next season in some capacity. A simple base salary restructure + 4 void years can free up $7.5M of cap space for the Titans - who may go one step further and just lock in their workhorse to a new contract altogether.

2022 4th rounder Hassan Haskins (3 years, $2.9M non-guaranteed), & Julius Chestnut (1 year, $870k) could figure into the mix next season, while veterans Dontrell Hilliard & Trenton Cannon are slated for unrestricted free agency.


Washington Commanders

Status: Multiple Changes?

2023 Top 51 Cap Space: $19.4M

Brian Robinson (3 years, $3.5M non-guaranteed), Antonio Gibson (1 year, $1.2M non-guaranteed) & J.D. McKissic (1 year, $2.75M non-guaranteed) are all under contract for 2023, but the Commanders should be looking for more production out of this position going forward. Finding a trade partner for Gibson probably makes the most sense, while a $250,000 roster bonus for McKissic due March 19th could mean an early decision is made there as well.