New York Giants, Las Vegas Raiders Star Running Backs Fail to Reach Longterm Deals at Deadline

Hostilities could soon escalate in Las Vegas and New York. According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Pro Bowl running backs Josh Jacobs and Saquon Barkley failed to come to terms on new contracts with their respective teams before Monday's franchise tag deadline, meaning both will be forced to play the 2023 season on their one-year, $10.1 million deals.

The New York Giants slapped the franchise tag on Barkley earlier this offseason after a resurgent year that saw him compile 1650 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, both his most since his rookie season. Jacobs also received the franchise tag from the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason after totalling a league-leading 2053 yards from scrimmage last season.

Barkley and Jacobs have both threatened holdouts in recent weeks as they've pursued new deals, but the NFL has become very stingy with running backs because of the high injury risk and relatively short shelf life at the position.

That depreciated market has left many stars struggling to land significant money. The position remains highly visible and a huge point of emphasis in media coverage due to fantasy football and the sheer volume of touches backs accumulate relative to other positions. However, coaches and front offices have clearly deemed the position secondary to team success.

Players like Barkley and Jacobs are victims of a dissonance in the NFL between notoriety and effectiveness. Without question, running backs remain some of the most talked about players in the league. Despite that, no running back contract breaks the top 100 in the NFL in annual average earnings.

There's a reason for that. The league has skewed so much towards passing that even the best running backs aren't enough to carry an offense to elite status. Barkley's Giants ranked only 15th in points scored in 2022 and finished with a 9-7-1 record; Jacobs' Raiders finished 12th and missed the playoffs at 6-11.

Fair or not, players of Jacobs' and Barkley's stature are no longer seen as difference-makers. Until running backs truly drive winning again, they'll be forced to settle for short-term deals and modest money. Holdouts are only viable threats if teams are afraid to lose you, and no back in the league can claim that. Jacobs and Barkley will have no choice but to take the money on the table, have solid seasons, and try again next year.