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2024 NFL offseason: Projecting performances of running backs who changed teams

The running back market received a jump-start this offseason.

In 2023, franchise tags and stagnation dominated, but in 2024, big names were on the move. It was a spicy free agency for the position, with Saquon Barkley and Aaron Jones leaping to division rivals and Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard and others shaking up the landscape. No, the earth-shattering deals didn't materialize, but after Miles Sanders' four-year, $25.4 million pact with the Panthers topped the pile last spring, the market saw positive developments, spurred by a dearth of projected early-round draft picks at running back this year, plus the volume of high-profile names available.

With that in mind, let's look at how the top 12 running backs changing teams might fare in 2024.


  • The average salaries included below are the APY (average per year) figures from Over The Cap.
  • Each player's listed age represents how old he will be on Sept. 5, when the 2024 NFL season is expected to kick off.

Average salary: $12.583 million

With Giants in 2023: 14 games | 247 att | 962 rush yds | 3.9 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 41 rec | 280 rec yds | 4 rec TDs | 2 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

The Eagles have plenty of mouths to feed, but if D'Andre Swift was able to put up 1K rushing yards in Philly in 2023, Saquon can do the same in 2024. Barkley still has juice, and I believe offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and QB Jalen Hurts will more fully exploit Barkley's pass-game skills than the Giants did over the past few years. Jason Kelce's retirement puts a ding in the blocking lanes, but the Eagles won't fall apart up front and remain worlds better than what Barkley was running behind with Big Blue. The key will be Barkley staying healthy. If he can do that, his gashing style fits perfectly next to Hurts, provides home-run ability out of the backfield and should drive linebackers crazy in coverage.

Josh Jacobs
Year 6 · Age: 26

Average salary: $12 million

With Raiders in 2023: 13 games | 233 att | 805 rush yds | 3.5 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 37 rec | 296 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 3 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

Jacobs is currently on an every-other-year-is-great yo-yo, so by that approximation, the Packers bought in at the right time. Jacobs led the NFL in rushing in 2022, but in 2023 -- after sitting out in the offseason and inking a one-year pact in Vegas -- he never looked right. It could have been the 340-carry workload from that '22 campaign wearing on his legs, or simply lousy injury luck. When he's healthy, Jacobs is a piledriver who can get north and south in a hurry, turning would-be 3-yard gains into 7- and 8-yarders. His style as a workhorse back with some pass-catching skills should fit well in Matt LaFleur's offense. We saw how important a healthy Aaron Jones was to Green Bay's operation in 2023. I expect Jacobs to immediately step into Jones' role and provide Jordan Love with a thriving ground complement. He finished with a career-low 3.5 yards per carry last year, but we should see a more rejuvenated Jacobs in 2024.

Joe Mixon
Year 8 · Age: 28

Average salary: $9.875 million

With Bengals in 2023: 17 games | 257 att | 1,034 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 52 rec | 376 rec yds | 3 rec TDs | 0 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

The Texans traded for Mixon and handed him a new contract with designs on the veteran being their workhorse. During the last 10 weeks of last season, Devin Singletary took over the starting role in Houston, earning 167 carries for 715 yards (4.28 yards per carry) in that span, which would have been good for 1,215 yards when extrapolated over a full season. Assuming Mixon picks up where Singletary left off, Mixon should be working with the same kind of volume he received in Cincinnati, and he should be able to hit his production from last season. He's joining an offense that wants to run the ball. Even if the recent trade for Stefon Diggs portends more passing by the Texans in 2024, it also ensures that Mixon will see a ton of light boxes. Plus, C.J. Stroud isn't afraid of checking into runs when he gets a favorable matchup. Mixon might have lost a step over the past few seasons, failing to put up many big, explosive plays, but with their words and actions, the Texans have dismissed concerns Mixon could be hitting a cliff. I'm curious to see if Houston will use him more in the passing game, where he was sometimes forgotten in Cincinnati.

Derrick Henry
Year 9 · Age: 30

Average salary: $8 million

With Titans in 2023: 17 games | 280 att | 1,167 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 12 rush TDs | 28 rec | 214 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: WORSE

I'm not expecting some precipitous fall-off here, but I do struggle to see Henry getting an overwhelming share of carries in the Ravens' offense. Henry has led the league in carries in four of the past five seasons, including 2023. Assuming Lamar Jackson will still get a slice of the rushing attempts in Baltimore, Henry could struggle to get back to the 1,100-yard mark. Since breaking the 2,000-yard barrier in 2020, Henry has seen his YPC dwindle; last season, he tied a career low with 4.2. Yes, he'll be playing with a better O-line than the patchwork quilt he ran behind last year in Tennessee, but Baltimore is also dealing with attrition up front. How Henry fits into Todd Monken's scheme will be one of the more interesting things to track when training camp opens in July. So far, both the back and coaching staff believe it's a match made in heaven. However, it's all just projection until we see Henry lined up next to Jackson. He has the potential to be the biggest boom-or-bust free agent signing of the offseason. Admission: The recent Injury Curse of the Ravens Running Back has me spooked when it comes to projecting Henry's 2024 campaign.

D'Andre Swift
Year 5 · Age: 25

Average salary: $8 million

With Eagles in 2023: 16 games | 229 att | 1,049 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 39 rec | 214 rec yds | 1 rec TDs | 3 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: WORSE

Swift nearly doubled his previous best in rushing yards, nudging his way over the 1,000-yard mark and earning 200-plus carries for the first time in his career. He also stayed healthy for the first time in four seasons and ran behind the best offensive line in football. Everything set up well for the 25-year-old's career year. Chicago is betting Swift turned over a new leaf rather than 2023 being an outlier. With a rookie QB (presumably Caleb Williams) under center, new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will likely look for a balanced approach, leaning on Swift, particularly early in the season. Khalil Herbert is a fine complementary back but shouldn't steal too many of Swift's snaps. I expect Swift to be deployed more in the passing game than he was in Philly (where he logged career lows in targets, catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs), but his rushing total likely dips in the move to the shores of Lake Michigan.

Tony Pollard
Year 6 · Age: 27

Average salary: $7.25 million

With Cowboys in 2023: 17 games | 252 att | 1,005 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 55 rec | 311 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 3 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: WORSE

Pollard's dalliance with lead-back duties in Dallas didn't work out as projected. The speedster's big-play total took a nosedive, and he just topped 1,000 yards despite logging 252 totes. Compare that to 2022, when Pollard generated 1,007 yards on 193 carries. In 2023, the back's yards-per-carry mark plummeted to a career-low 4.0. He also earned a career-low 2.92 yards after contact per carry, and his 22.8 percent breakaway rate was the lowest in his career, per Pro Football Focus. So, yes, 2023 was disappointing. But I like the fit in Brian Callahan's offense, assuming it's similar to what we saw Cincy run under Zac Taylor. Pollard can be a three-down back. Splitting reps with Tyjae Spears, who has dynamic pass-catching ability, should keep Pollard fresher but could also curtail his upside. How much has the offensive line improved in Tennessee after a disastrous 2023? Will defenses respect Will Levis, therefore lightening the box? That all remains to be seen.

Aaron Jones
Year 8 · Age: 29

Average salary: $7 million

With Packers in 2023: 11 games | 142 att | 656 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 30 rec | 233 rec yds | 1 rec TDs | 2 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

Injuries were the only thing that slowed Jones last season. Otherwise, he was a force, often serving as the engine of the Packers' offense and helping propel Green Bay to a wild-card win in Dallas. But the question of whether he can stay on the field is a genuine concern. Jones will turn 30 in December, and for some runners of that age, nicks can linger, while soft-tissue injuries become a plague. If he can maintain his health, Jones should mash in Kevin O'Connell's offense, as the running back's dual-threat ability should pair well with the Vikings scheme -- assuming the coach is willing to hand it off in 2024. KOC hasn't leaned on the running game much in his two years in Minnesota. Last year, that could have been because the position didn't produce when he attempted to go to the ground. This season, O'Connell has a proven playmaker who should be featured. Jones' ability as an outlet could be key, whether the QB is a rookie or Sam Darnold.

Devin Singletary
Year 6 · Age: 27

Average salary: $5.5 million

With Texans in 2023: 17 games | 216 att | 898 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 30 rec | 193 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 1 fumble

2024 numbers will be: BETTER      

When given the bulk of the workload in Houston, Singletary impressed, gashing defenses in a Bobby Slowik offense that fit his skill set well. As previously mentioned, had he been the Day 1 starter, he'd have well surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau. With little other competition in New York, Singletary should get most of the carries out of the gate. Singletary was underutilized during his first four career seasons in Buffalo, a fact that became clearer after his performance in Houston -- so he should have more tread on his tires than other backs his age. While there are some concerns around his rate of forced missed tackles dipping with more carries, I think volume keeps Singletary above his 2023 numbers and allows him to set new career highs in Brian Daboll's offense.

Average salary: $4.215 million

With Chargers in 2023: 14 games | 179 att | 628 rush yds | 3.5 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 51 rec | 436 rec yds | 1 rec TDs | 5 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

Ekeler's injury-riddled 2023 came at a bad time. Dinged up from the start of the season, the dual-threat back lacked the between-the-tackles power we'd come to expect. Even so, he managed to surpass 1,000 scrimmage yards and remains a threat in the passing attack. Commanders coordinator Kliff Kingsbury is known as an Air Raid coach, but during his stint as the head coach Arizona, the Cards finished in the top seven in rush attempts twice and in the top 10 in rushing yards three times. Kingsbury helped make Kenyan Drake look good, including with a 955-yard rushing campaign in 2020. Who is a better version of Drake? Austin Ekeler. The two biggest questions are health -- as with any RB -- and how the Commanders balance Ekeler's reps with Brian Robinson's. Kingsbury has juggled multiple RBs in the past (SEE: James Conner and Chase Edmonds in 2021). With a rookie quarterback likely under center, Washington could lean on the duo early in the season.

Zack Moss
Year 5 · Age: 26

Average salary: $4 million

With Colts in 2023: 14 games | 183 att | 794 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 27 rec | 192 rec yds | 2 rec TDs | 0 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

Simply put, Moss was more productive with his reps in Indy than Joe Mixon in Cincy last season. Moss earned more YPC, broke more tackles and had a higher yards-after-contact rate than Mixon. When given his chance, Moss impressed, logging two contests of 120-plus yards early in the season, when Jonathan Taylor was out. He might not have big-time breakaway skills, but Moss can generate enough yards to keep the offense in favorable situations. He profiles as the Bengals' early-down back, playing the Mixon role (on a less costly contract), while Chase Brown handles third-down and pass-catching duties. It's a solid duo for this pass-first team to deploy.  

Average salary: $3.75 million

With Commanders in 2023: 16 games | 65 att | 265 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 1 rush TDs | 48 rec | 389 rec yds | 2 rec TDs | 3 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: BETTER

We get to our first primary pass-catching back on this list. Gibson isn't much of a threat to poach carries from Rhamondre Stevenson on early downs, but he should take on third-down pass-catching tasks. The Patriots have lacked a dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield since the heyday of James White, who retired before the 2022 season. Gibson's three-year contract isn't massive, but it's not for pennies, either (the $3.75 million per year average currently ranks 22nd among all RBs), suggesting the club wants him to play a sizable role. Following his 1,000-yard rushing campaign in 2021, fumbling issues seemed to land Gibson in Ron Rivera's doghouse in D.C. A fresh start should be beneficial for the former third-round pick. His receiving skills should be utilized in an offense lacking in potent targets and will be a boon if the Pats indeed draft a QB with the No. 3 overall pick.

Gus Edwards
Year 7 · Age: 29

Average salary: $3.25 million

With Ravens in 2023: 17 games | 198 att | 810 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 13 rush TDs | 12 rec | 180 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 3 fumbles

2024 numbers will be: WORSE

Gus The Bus is a great goal-line back, but I'm skeptical of his every-down capability. We know Jim Harbaugh loves to deploy a fierce rushing attack, and his offenses have generally leaned on one main back, whether he was with Stanford, Michigan or the 49ers. At this point, Edwards is the guy. But will it remain so? We've seen Edwards produce under new Chargers offensive coordinator Greg Roman before; while working with Roman in Baltimore between 2019 and 2022, Edwards averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. That's a great figure, but he also averaged 121 carries over three seasons in that span (not including 2021, which Edwards missed with a torn ACL; he also played in just nine games in 2022). Can Edwards keep producing as the primary runner in L.A.? With just $3.375 million in guarantees, the contract suggests the club isn't putting all its eggs in this particular bus. Given that the Chargers have nine draft picks, expect Harbaugh's club to identify a back it believes can complement Edwards, form a tandem and potentially supersede the veteran.

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