May 25, 2024

NFL executive reacts to contracts for Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs

At least one unnamed NFL executive has suggested that Philadelphia Eagles running back Saquon Barkley and Green Bay Packers ball-carrier Josh Jacobs could soon be viewed as overpaid. 

“I’m surprised they got paid,” the executive said about Barkley and Jacobs during a chat with Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “I didn’t see anything to alter recent history this offseason.” 

One of the most-discussed stories of the previous offseason involved big-name running backs such as Jonathan Taylor Colts, Barkley and Jacobs searching for extensions that none received before the start of summer. Barkley and the New York Giants agreed to an adjusted franchise tag in July, while Jacobs received an increase in base salary for the 2023 campaign from the Las Vegas Raiders in late August. 

As for Taylor, he signed a three-year, $42M extension that included $26.5M guaranteed this past October. That proved to be somewhat of a preview for what was to come in March 2024. 

It was reported early into the NFL’s legal tampering portion of free agency that Barkley and the Eagles had agreed to a three-year, $37.75M contract that could be worth up to $46.75M with $26M fully guaranteed at signing. Around that same time, Jacobs landed a four-year, $48M deal ($12.5M guaranteed) to leave Las Vegas for Green Bay. 

Neither the Giants nor Raiders seemed to lose too much sleep over the departures of those starting running backs at a time when, as Howe wrote, clubs “prefer a budget-conscious approach and a backfield rotation to keep the offense in rhythm if a player goes down.” Meanwhile, one coach told Howe that he thinks that running back will “go back to being the relatively lowest-paid spot” as soon as next offseason. 

The Cleveland Browns recently agreed to a reworked contract with fan-favorite running back Nick Chubb after he suffered a torn ACL, torn MCL, torn meniscus and torn medial capsule on Sept. 18. On Monday, columnist Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer shared that an NFL source told him the Browns likely would’ve parted ways with Chubb this offseason if he wasn’t such a “huge part of their team in terms of his character and quiet leadership.” 

In short, the Barkley and Jacobs deals probably mean little regarding how teams around the league view paying running backs beyond rookie contracts. 

“It was still a beneficial offseason stretch for running backs, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for an about-face in teams’ financial investments,” Howe said.