New England Patriots

2024 NFL free agents: Ranking top 10 running backs available

The free agent class of RBs is absolutely loaded.

NBC Universal, Inc.

NFL teams that need to upgrade at running back this offseason are in luck because the 2024 free agent class is one of the best in history.


There are tons of good running backs expected to hit the market when free agency begins later this month. One reason for this scenario is that teams don't pay running backs as much or for as long as they used to. As a result, more of these players are hitting free agency because their contracts are shorter.

Here's our ranking of the top 10 free-agent running backs for 2024. Be sure to check out our other free agent rankings for quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive tackles.

10. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

2023 Stats: 22 yards, 1 TD in 1 GP (suffered a torn Achilles in Week 1)

Dobbins is a high-risk/high-reward kind of free agent. When healthy, he's an efficient runner, evidenced by his 5.8 career yards per carry. He's also missed a ton of games due to injuries. Dobbins missed all of 2021 (torn ACL), half of the 2022 season (knee) and nearly all of the 2023 campaign (torn Achilles). Dobbins is too talented for a team not to take a chance on. But the injury risk is a real concern.

9. Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots

2023 Stats: 642 yards, 3 TD in 17 GP

Elliott was pretty productive for the Patriots in 2023 after spending the previous seven seasons with the Cowboys. Elliott tallied 955 total yards and five total touchdowns with New England. His 51 receptions actually led the team.

Here's how our Tom E. Curran recently summed up Elliott's season in Foxboro:

"He showed up in shape and with a tremendous and infectious attitude. He ran tough as hell all season into defenses that had zero fear of Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe battering them with their arms and decision-making. He had 235 touches and managed 955 yards from scrimmage.

"While those numbers seem pedestrian, you can understand what he was dealing with when you see his YBC (yards before catch) was -1.2 yards.They threw sideways and backwards. More than half of his rushing yards (350) came after contact. He also played every game."

Elliott isn't a No. 1 running back, but he's still fully capable of being an effective second option, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

8. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers

2023 Stats: 613 yards, 2 TD in 15 GP

With Aaron Jones entrenched as the Packers' top running back, it makes sense for Dillon to seek a larger role elsewhere. He has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in four career seasons, along with 16 touchdowns during that span. His 6-foot, 247-pound frame and fantastic lower-body strength make him effective in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

7. Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts

2023 Stats: 794 yards, 5 TD in 14 GP

Moss set career highs in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving touchdowns last season. His workload increased while Jonathan Taylor was out of the Colts lineup, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He's not a true workhorse running back but could thrive as a really good 1B or No. 2 option for a contender.

UPDATE (March 11): Moss is joining the Cincinnati Bengals on a two-year, $8 million deal according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo.

6. D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

2023 Stats: 1,049 yards, 5 TD in 16 GP

Swift was traded to the Eagles during the 2023 NFL Draft and ran for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He also has scored five or more rushing touchdowns in each of his four seasons as a pro. Swift is a pretty good receiver, too, evidenced by his 195 career receptions.

UPDATE (March 11): Swift is signing a three-year, $24 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

5. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

2023 Stats: 628 yards, 5 TD in 14 GP

Ekeler had a stellar 2022 campaign during which he tallied 1,622 total yards and 18 total touchdowns. He was less productive in 2023 with 1,064 total yards and six total touchdowns. Ekeler remains one of the most effective pass-catching running backs, making him an ideal complement to a young QB. He also finds the end zone with regularity, totaling 44 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

UPDATE (March 11): Ekeler is signing a two-year deal worth up to $11.43 million with the Washington Commanders, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.

4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

2023 Stats: 1,167 yards, 12 TD in 17 GP

Henry led the league in rushing yards in 2019 and 2020. He's the most recent player to run for 2,000-plus yards in a single season (2020). He's closing in on 10,000 yards and has carried the ball 2030 times over eight seasons. He's 29, which is pretty old by running back standards, but Henry hasn't shown too many signs of slowing down. He ran for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Henry has found the end zone 90 times in his career. He isn't a top-five running back anymore, but he's still productive enough to be a starter on a good team.

UPDATE (March 12): Henry is heading to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal worth $16 million, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

2023 Stats: 962 yards, 6 TD in 14 GP

The Giants have decided not to franchise tag Barkley, so he's officially headed to free agency. Barkley has averaged 4.3 yards per carry with three 1,000-yard seasons in his six-year career. He also has caught at least 41 passes in each of the last three seasons.

Durability is a risk with Barkley -- he hasn't played a full season since 2018. But when healthy, he's still a top 10 or top 15 player at the position.

UPDATE (March 11): Barkley is joining the Giants' archrival Philadelphia Eagles on a three-year, $37.75 million contract.

2. Tony Pollard, Cowboys

2023 Stats: 1,005 yards, 6 TD in 17 games

Pollard is coming off back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus yards on the ground, in addition to a career-high 55 receptions for the Cowboys last season. He is averaging an impressive 4.8 yards per carry in his career, too. Pollard has less wear-and-tear than most players on this list with 762 career rushing attempts in five seasons.

UPDATE (March 11): Pollard is joining the Tennessee Titans on a three-year deal worth $24 million, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

1. Josh Jacobs, Raiders

2023 Stats: 805 yards, 6 TD in 13 GP

Jacobs led the league with 1,653 rushing yards in 2022. He didn't get a long-term extension with the Raiders going into 2023 but was productive nonetheless.

He has three 1,000-yard seasons and a total of 46 rushing touchdowns over five seasons. He's also a decent pass-catcher out of the backfield with 197 career receptions. The 26-year-old veteran should have several more elite seasons left.

UPDATE (March 11): The Green Bay Packers signed Jacobs to a four-year, $48 million contract, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Contact Us