NFL Position Series: Running Backs

NFL Position Series: Running Backs

Our NFL offseason series continues with a look at the running back position for each team heading into 2022, making note of potential RB1/RB2 possibilities, notable extension candidates, players heading to free agency, restructure candidates, and plenty more.

Offseason Position Pieces

Arizona Cardinals


James Conner & Chase Edmonds handled nearly every snap for the Cardinals, and are both on expiring contracts. Conner probably has the better chance of the two to return, with a $6M valuation attached to his offseason.

Atlanta Falcons

RB1: UFA | RB2: 1 yr, $3.25M

Mike Davis entered 2021 as one of the fantasy sleeper darlings. He was quickly pushed into an RB2 role with the explosion of Cordarrelle Patterson onto the scene. Davis holds a $3.25M cap hit for 2022, while Patterson is set to carry a $9M valuation to the open market. He’s a fringe franchise tag candidate.

Baltimore Ravens

RB1; 2 yrs, $2.5M | RB2: 2 yrs, $8.6M

We’re referencing two running backs here, JK Dobbins, & Gus Edwards, who didn’t see a snap in 2021 but should still be the expected 1-2 punch for the Ravens in 2022. If they’re healthy, this has extremely high ceiling potential.

Buffalo Bills

RB1: 1 yr, $965k  | RB2: 2 yrs, $2.1M

Devin Singletary & ??Zack Moss don’t appear to be the long-term solutions for Buffalo, but with extremely friendly rookie salaries in front of them, it makes little sense to move on without cause. The Bills could be in the market for a veteran upgrade here, so a late offseason trade for one of these two may be on the table.

Carolina Panthers

RB1: 4 yrs, $44M ($8M GTD) | RB2: 3 yrs, $2.7M

Christian McCaffrey’s roster spot will likely be a hot topic early this offseason, as the 25 year old hit the injury list again in 2021. But with $8.1M of his 2022 salary fully guaranteed, & $26.6M of dead cap attached to his 2022 season, it’s safe to assume he sticks, barring a trade of course. Chuba Hubbard filled in admirably for a few 2021 weeks, and his rookie contract makes him a lock to remain in that role.

Chicago Bears

RB1: 1 yr, $965k | RB2: 2 yrs, $9.75M

David Montgomery enters the offseason as a prominent extension candidate, currently valuing to a 4 year, $51M contract. A healthy Tarik Cohen should rejoin this rotation as the #2 back, but his recovery from a torn ACL has been slow going thus far. $2.5M of Cohen’s 2022 salary is guaranteed for injury, and will become fully guaranteed in March.

Cincinnati Bengals

RB1: 3 yrs, $29M | RB2: 1 yr, $1.5M

A healthy Joe Mixon has proved to be one of the best RBs in the league, and while his contract is in a pay-as-you-go structure from here out, Cincy should have no problem playing out two more years on the current contract. His $11.45M cap hit for 2022 makes him a base salary restructure candidate. Samaje Perine should stick as the RB2 with a $1.8M cap hit for 2022.


Cleveland Browns

RB1: 3 yrs, $27.2M | RB2: 1 yr, $6.25M

The Browns possess one of the best one-two punches in the league, and should continue to see major value out of the group through 2022. Nick Chubb ($5.2M) & Kareem Hunt ($6.25M) combine for $11.4M of cap next season, while fill-in D’Ernest Johnson should qualify for a RFA tender of $2.4M.


Dallas Cowboys

RB1: 5 yrs, $65.3M ($12.4M GTD) | RB2: 1 yr, $965k

Ezekiel Elliott’s contract seems ridiculous at this stage, but the guarantees tell a much different story. Elliott’s $12.4M 2022 salary is already guaranteed, and his $18.2M cap hit screams for another base salary restructure, which would free up over $9M, but raise his 2023 dead cap hit to $20.9M. Dallas’ RB1B Tony Pollard enters a contract year in 2022, on a minimum $965k salary, carrying a $4M per year valuation. Will a Pollard extension signal a one and done situation for Zeke?


Denver Broncos

RB1: UFA | RB2 : 3 yrs, $4.3M

Javonte Williams appears primed to take over the RB1 role with Melvin Gordon headed for free agency. Despite being 28, Gordon still holds a $5M+ valuation heading toward the open market, and could be in consideration for teams like Miami, Houston, or Tampa. Denver will likely be in the market for a mid round RB in the draft, or a vet. minimum option in free agency.

Detroit Lions

RB1: 2 yrs, $3M | 1 yr, $3.75M

D'Andre Swift’s role as a pass-catching RB was further established in 2021, and should become a large part of the Lions’ offense over the next 2 seasons, if he can stay on the field. Veteran Jamaal Williams holds a slightly high $4.375M cap hit in 2022 in regards to an RB2, and it’s possible that youngster Jermar Jefferson beats him out for that role, but keeping everyone in the fold probably more sense as well here.

Green Bay Packers

RB1: 3 yrs, 33.75M | RB2: 2 yrs, $2.3M

Aaron Jones & ??A.J. Dillon represent one of the best combos in football, and with question marks at the QB position going forward in Green Bay, could be one of the more relied on duos as well. Jones has no additional guaranteed salary left on his contract, but an early March roster bonus ($3.75M) secures his contract through 2022. It becomes “year-to-year” thereafter. Dillon’s lack of a role has his early valuation down at $3M, but expanded opportunities (especially as a pass catcher) should see this more than double in the coming months.

Houston Texans


This is going to be a trend for Houston across many positional categories, as the 2021 team is comprised largely of 1 year contracts. 30 year old David Johnson & 31 year old Rex Burkhead probably won’t factor into the future plans, though Johnson still has the ability to snag a few balls out of the air with regularity. He carries a $1.5M valuation into free agency this March. The Texans have two 3rd round picks in 2022, a seemingly perfect spot to find their next big RB weapon for the future.


Indianapolis Colts

RB1: 2 years, $3M | RB2: 3 yrs, $13.9M

Well there’s certainly no question who the RB1 will be going forward. ??Jonathan Taylor isn’t just the best running back in football, but a strong MVP candidate as well. His rookie contract runs through 2023, and he’ll become extension eligible after the 2022 season. He projects currently to a 5 year, $76M extension. Nyheim Hines, a versatile option behind Taylor, is fully guaranteed through 2022 at $3.3M.


Jacksonville Jaguars

RB1: 1 yr, $895k | RB2: 3 yrs, $5.4M

Both James Robinson & Travis Etienne will be recovering from injuries this offseason, but for now we’ll assume them as the top two options for 2022. Robinson is eligible for restricted free agency after 2022, and holds an $8.8M valuation currently.

Kansas City Chiefs

RB1: 2 yrs, $3.5M + option | RB2: UFA

A Clyde Edwards-Helaire does seem a nice fit for this high-flying offense, and he’s under team control through 2024. Very capable backup Darrel Williams is a pending free agent, carrying a $2.2M valuation currently. At 26, he may be seeking a last shot at a starting role & contract.

Las Vegas Raiders

RB1 : 1 yr, $2.1M + option | RB2: 1 yr, $8M

Josh Jacobs isn’t having quite the rushing year he’s showed in his previous two seasons, but with 50+ catches out of the backfield he’s established himself as a more dangerous weapon than anticipated. He’s an extension candidate this winter, projecting to a 4 year, $40M deal right now. It’s still hard to understand the Kenyan Drake signing last March, but the near 28 year old has $5.5M fully guaranteed in 2022, as he recovers from a broken ankle.

Los Angeles Chargers

RB1: 2 yrs, $10.75M | RB2 : UFA

$1.25M of Austin Ekeler’s $5M salary for 2022 becomes fully guaranteed in early March, further supplanting the 26 year old in his RB1 role for another season. Justin Jackson posted a solid 2021 in a backup role, and should be on the radar of a few teams this offseason for a larger opportunity. It stands to reason that 2020 4th round pick Josh Kelley will slide into the RB2 role for 2022.

Los Angeles Rams

RB1: 2 yrs, $2.5M | RB2: 1 yr, $1M

Sony Michel’s success in this offense has generated some confusion with the RB group going forward, but it’s unlikely that the Rams retain him on the contract he’ll be seeking (or the one Miami will offer him). For now, Cam Akers should retain the RB1 role, locked in through 2023, and Darrell Henderson will enter a contract year as the RB2. There’s probably a near-minimum veteran to be signed here next March.

Miami Dolphins

RB1:1 yr, $965k | RB2: UFA

Myles Gaskin has proven to be a nice, but limited, option out of the backfield in Miami. The Dolphins are a team poised to sign or draft a major asset or two at this position over the next few months. Gaskin enters a contract year on a rookie minimum, so he’ll likely stick in a depth role.

Minnesota Vikings

RB1: 4 yrs, $46M | RB2: 1 yr, $965k

Dalvin Cook’s contract actually possesses an out after 2021, but that’s a ridiculous idea to entertain (for now). In fact, a base salary restructure for Cook can free up nearly $6M of cap space for the Vikings in 2022. His dependable backup Alexander Mattison is entering a contract year in 2022, on a minimum $965k salary. Mattison holds a $2.5M valuation currently.

New England Patriots

RB1: 1 yr, $965k | RB2: 3 yrs, $2.8M

Damien Harris has shown big game potential the past season and half, but enters a contract year in 2022. Is he primed for the prototypical $4M-$5M per year extension in New England? RB2 Rhamondre Stevenson is a gamer, and should have no trouble sticking on minimum salaries for 2-3 more years, with RB1 in his sights if Harris isn’t re-signed.

New Orleans Saints

RB1: 4 yrs, $59M | RB2: 1 yr, $2.3M

With the QB position in flux, and the cap issues certain to cause more casualties on the defensive side of the ball (and potentially OL), Alvin Kamara may be in for quite a workload in 2022. His $11.5M salary in 2022 is already fully guaranteed, and $4M of his 2023 compensation locks in this coming March. A simple restructure on Kamara’s 2022 compensation can free up $8.3M of cap space for New Orleans (book it.). Meanwhile, RB2 Mark Ingram has already been extended through the 2022 season, and should be locked into that spot.

New York Giants

RB1: 1 yr, $7.2M | RB2: 1 yr, $2M

Saquon Barkley will be heading toward the 5th and final year of his rookie contract in 2022, likely without a contract extension under his belt. A good year likely prompts a franchise tag in 2023. Backup Devontae Booker carries a non-guaranteed $2M salary for next season, with $1M to be freed up if the Giants look elsewhere.

New York Jets

RB1: 3 yrs, $2.8M | RB2: UFA

Michael Carter appears to have a real chance to secure and thrive in a RB1 role going forward, and the Jets will have him on minimum salaries through 2024. Tevin Coleman likely walks into free agency, leaving Ty Johnson & La'Mical Perine under rookie contracts to vie for a potential RB2 role. There’s probably a veteran signing to be made here.

Philadelphia Eagles

RB1: 1 yr, $1.2M | RB2: RFA

Miles Sanders has enough talent to be an RB1 in this league, but he struggles to stay on the field for large chunks of time. He’ll enter a contract year in 2022, and is a fringe extension candidate. Boston Scott will need an RFA tender (or a multi-year extension) this winter, and Philly will need to choose between an original round tender (6th round pick, $2.5M), or a 2nd round tender ($3.9M). Kenneth Gainwell showed nice flashes in his first season, and could be a factor in additional contracts for Sanders/Scott.

Pittsburgh Steelers

RB1: 3 yrs, $5.5M + option | RB2: 1 yr, $965k

Safe to say Najee Harris hasn’t had the start to his NFL that he and we all expected, but anyone with knowledge of the offensive line that was slapped together for Pittsburgh in 2021 should know that better days are likely coming. Benny Snell Jr. has a 1 year minimum salary left, but could be upgraded this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers

RB1: 3 yrs, $3.2M | RB2: 3 yrs, $2.8M

Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, & Trenton Cannon are all slated for free agency, and will likely walk there thanks to a talented group ready to take over in ??Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell, & JaMycal Hasty. Trey Lance should have plenty of help out of the backfield in 2022.

Seattle Seahawks

RB1: 1 yr, $4.925M | RB2: UFA

Chris Carson’s future isn’t exactly secure, as the 27 year old is recovering from disc-fusion surgery. But his return to health should mean he slots back into a starting role, on a non-guaranteed $4.9M salary. Rashaad Penny & Alex Collins have both shown nice flashes this seasons, but it’s likely both walk into free agency as well, leaving Travis Homer (1 yr, $965k), & DeeJay Dallas (2 yrs, $1.9M) to vie for the RB2 role.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Will Leonard Fournette take another slight discount to remain as Tom Brady’s backfield weapon, or will a RB-needy team make an offer the Bucs simply can’t match this offseason? Fournette projects to a 2 year, $12M contract currently. With Ronald Jones II almost certain to hit the open market, Ke'Shawn Vaughn (2 yrs, $2.2M) has a legitimate chance to gain a starting role in 2022 - possibly even the RB1 spot.

Tennessee Titans

RB1: 2 yrs, $24.5M | RB2: 2 yrs, $2.1M

Derrick Henry’s contract contains an out after 2021, but nobody in their right mind expects that to be considered. It’s much more likely a base restructure is applied to free up cap for other team needs, adding a little more dead cap to 2023. The RB2 role is likely Darrynton Evans’s to lose, as both Jeremy McNichols & D'Onta Foreman are headed for free agency.

Washington Football Team

RB1: 2 yrs, $2.2M | RB2: UFA

Antonio Gibson should return as the featured back in 2022, with 2 years remaining on his rookie contract. The backup role is up for grabs, as 28 year old J.D. McKissic is a pending free agent. McKissic holds a $3.5M valuation, which should be considered with his ability to catch balls out of the backfield. UDFA Jaret Patterson could slide into the RB2 role as well.