If last offseason marked a surge in big-time wide receiver money, with veterans like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and A.J. Brown all cashing in with lucrative extensions, 2023 might be the year of running back devaluation. Of course the RB position has taken a financial hit for years now, with more teams preferring a rotation of backs to a single, featured ball-carrier. But this summer alone, we have three different repeat Pro Bowlers facing uncertain futures amid contract disputes.

The subjects: Dalvin Cook, freshly released by the Vikings despite four straight 1,100-yard rushing seasons; Josh Jacobs, the NFL's reigning rushing champion who's teasing a prolonged holdout from the Raiders; and Saquon Barkley, the rejuvenated Giants star who's doing the same in New York. A further look at their career credentials:

PlayerTeamStatusAgeYearsRush YardsRush TDsPro Bowls

Dalvin Cook


Free Agent



Josh Jacobs


Franchise Tag (Unsigned)



Saquon Barkley


Franchise Tag (Unsigned)



As noted, none of these big-name backs is particularly old. Cook will turn 28 before the start of the season, making him the most seasoned of the trio, and rightfully there was concern from the Vikings about paying big bucks to someone with so much wear and tear at a replaceable position. But generally speaking, these are still athletes in their prime, all of whom have been among the best play-makers in the NFL when healthy. It's why Cook preferred exiting Minnesota rather than docking his pay for a team in transition, it's why Jacobs is hinting at a big disconnect with the Raiders in contract talks, and it's why Barkley is open to sitting out games in 2023.

Which one has the best case for commanding top dollar? That seems relatively clear. Cook has been doing it for the longest, but he's coming off shoulder surgery with 1,500+ career touches, plus a lesser recent volume as a pass catcher. Barkley, meanwhile, has the most impressive physical tools, which he showcased as a centerpiece of Brian Daboll's offense in 2022, but he's also missed 21 games the last four seasons. Jacobs, meanwhile, hasn't been immune to nicks and bruises, and is by nature more of a contact-seeking runner, yet he's the youngest, looked fresher than ever in a 2022 breakout and has improved as a pass outlet. If anyone has grounds for seeking more than the roughly $10 million he'd earn in 2023 under the tag, it's him.

That begs the question, what exactly might Jacobs (and his fellow disgruntled backs) actually get on new deals? Here are some logical contract proposals for each of them:

PlayerYearsTotalPer Year

Dalvin Cook




Josh Jacobs




Saquon Barkley




Cook feels especially ripe for a short-term deal, hitting the open market going on 28. You can imagine more of a front-loaded offer, too; the two-year, $23M proposal might pay something like $13M in 2023, allowing him to retain a top-three RB salary before a potential return to the market. Barkley's mercurial run before 2022 makes him a trickier case; you can understand why the Giants aren't leaping at the chance to commit to him beyond a one-year tag. Jacobs, again, is the best-suited for bigger long-term earnings. A $13M annual average would make him the NFL's third-highest-paid RB behind only Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, though it's fair to wonder if he'd ever get that offer from the Raiders.

In terms of landing spots, Cook's next home still seems most likely to come in the AFC East, where his hometown Dolphins have sought RB upgrades and the rival Bills employ his younger brother, James. Between Jacobs and Barkley, we'd bet on the latter sticking with -- and playing for -- the Giants regardless of a long-term deal, especially after New York's new regime aided his career turnaround in 2022. Jacobs is the wild card to watch in Las Vegas, with the Raiders a real candidate to either rescind the tag or explore a trade while further retooling the offense under Josh McDaniels.