Would the Broncos pay up to acquire a big-name RB?

The running back market has been very affected ... can the Denver Broncos take advantage of it, and make a splash by trading for Josh Jacobs or Saquon Barkley?
Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The running back market has been greatly affected in the past few years, especially with the number of injuries that players suffer in this position. The 2023 NFL free agent market has been huge evidence of the running back problem nowadays and has shown that teams do not want to spend big money on running backs.

Here are big-name free agent running backs that can be starters in this league but do not have a team due to the contract situations at the position ...

  • Dalvin Cook - 4x Pro Bowler
  • Ezekiel Elliott - 3x Pro Bowl, 2x All-Pro
  • Leonard Fournette - Super Bowl Champion
  • Kareem Hunt - 1x Pro Bowler

Additionally, there are running backs that requested a trade or want a new challenge because their actual team did not want to pay them big money.

  • Austin Ekeler - requested a trade
  • Derrick Henry - consistently popped up in trade rumors in 2023

The situation is tough for these guys because they train hard and put in a lot of effort, but at the end of the day, running backs get hurt the most, so teams do not want to pay big money to them and get younger guys from the same position in the Draft.

Just for you to get an idea, in the past two seasons, the following running backs have had big injuries:

  • JK Dobbins - torn ACL in 2021, another knee injury in 2022
  • Javonte Williams - torn ACL and LCL in 2022
  • Jonathan Taylor - ankle injury in 2022
  • James Robinson - torn Achilles in 2021, cut by multiple teams due to health
  • Austin Ekeler - Hamstring injury in 2021, missed 6 games
  • Christian McCaffrey - shoulder injury, missed most of the 2021 season
  • Saquon Barkley - torn ACL in 2021
  • Breece Hall - torn ACL in 2022
  • Najee Harris - foot injury in 2022
  • D'Andre Swift - ankle and shoulder injuries in 2021 and 2022
  • Rashaad Penny - broken fibula in 2022
  • David Montgomery - Knee and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2021
  • Travis Etienne - Lisfranc injury, missed the entire 2021 season
  • Cam Akers - torn Achilles in 2021
  • Josh Jacobs - ankle and toe injuries in 2021

There are other situations, but these are just examples for you to see why NFL teams do not want to pay running backs.

With the above being said, there are two running backs that did not get a long-term extension before the tagged players' deadline. These two are Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs. Both can sign the franchise tag and then get traded to a team that will pay them. With the Javonte Williams injury situation, and to avoid Samaje Perine having the entire workload, the Denver Broncos could be a team to watch/monitor to land one of these big-name backs.

We do not know what a possible compensation could be for these two guys, but here is a comparison of their respective stats...

Saquon Barkley:

  • 60 games
  • 954 carries for 4,249 yards
  • 29 rushing TDs
  • 247 receptions for 1,820 yards
  • 8 receiving TDs

Josh Jacobs:

  • 60 games
  • 1,072 carries for 4,740 yards
  • 40 rushing TDs
  • 160 receptions for 1,152 yards
  • 0 receiving TDs

Earlier in the offseason, Sean Payton joked while he was still working for FOX Sports that he might take a look at adding Jacobs in the offseason. If one of these guys becomes available, the Broncos could make sense as a landing spot.

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