Jacobs, Barkley holding their ground, not signing franchise tags

Source: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

The top two potential running backs on the 2023 free agent market were franchise tagged this offseason, those being Raiders RB Josh Jacobs and Giants RB Saquon Barkley. Jacobs and Barkley are two of the most prolific backs in the NFL and were tagged instead of being signed to long-term contracts by the Raiders and Giants.

Since then, neither Jacobs nor Barkley has signed their franchise tag, a $10.1 million figure, and it doesn’t seem like that is happening any time soon. Training camp will start in the next 1-2 months for both teams, and the two running backs won’t be incentivized to sign their tags ahead of the July 17 deadline if they think they could land a long-term contract by continuing to hold out.

Jacobs tweeted yet another cryptic message that appears to be related to his ongoing contract negotiations, simply writing “Bad business,” earlier this week.

The harsh reality of the running back contract market is coming down hard on Jacobs and Barkley. Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards in 2022 as well as total scrimmage yards, and Barkley is one of the league’s premiere talents at the position, being drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants coming out of Penn State. Despite being two of the best at their position, NFL owners hold so much power over running backs in general through the use of the franchise tag and by continually undercutting elite-level rushing talents by signing cheaper players to take the jobs that players like Jacobs and Barkley would normally take.

The good news for Jacobs and Barkley however is that, as opposed to players such as Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Kareem Hunt, the Raiders and Giants don’t appear to be trying to move on from Jacobs or Barkley whatsoever. Neither team has added legitimate competition in their backfields, and the two rushers carry such a big workload for their teams that they should be able to retain some semblance of leverage in negotiations.

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