This offseason, several high-profile running backs should temper their expectations as they look to cash in on a lucrative NFL contract. Despite the Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent in the 2023 free-agent class of tailbacks, the group isn’t likely to feature any players who reset the market with megadeals. Moreover, the top names may have to settle for the franchise tag.

On one hand, the top eight earners among running backs in annual salary signed extensions with the teams that drafted them.

Yet the top three rushers from the 2022 season played for clubs that missed the playoffs. On top of that, Pro Football Focus’ Marcus Mosher shared an interesting observation, highlighting that the leading rusher for the previous 14 Super Bowl-winning teams had a base salary of $2.5 million or less.

In Super Bowl 57, Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco led all players in rushing with 76 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. As a rookie seventh-round pick, he led the team in rushing for the 2022 campaign (170 carries for 830 yards and five touchdowns), surpassing 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire (before he suffered an ankle injury) on the depth chart.

Between the modest investments in the top ball-carriers on the biggest NFL stage and the Chiefs’ late-draft gem at running back, teams may second-guess the decision to sign players at the position to massive extensions.

Let’s take a deep dive into the team situations of the top impending free-agent running backs (coming off rookie contracts) to understand why the open market may not be so kind to them.

Saquon Barkley

In 2022, the New York Giants relied heavily on Saquon Barkley to carry the offense for much of the season. He logged a career-high 295 carries and tied the number of total touches from his rookie campaign (352). The two-time Pro Bowler rushed for 110-plus yards in four games through Week 10.

Though Barkley finished with his second-most scrimmage yards in a single season (1,650) and received the third-most Comeback of Player of the Year votes, he’s not going to land a massive deal this offseason.

For one, Barkley comes with some buyer beware because of his injury history. He played all but one game (because of rest in Week 18 this past season) in the 2018 and 2022 campaigns, but the five-year running back missed 21 contests between 2019 and 2021.

Secondly, Barkley may have to settle for a little less if the Giants plan to retain Daniel Jones, who, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, wants $45 million per year. Of course, Big Blue can use the $32.9 million franchise tag on Jones, but in the near future, the front office may have to pay him $40-plus million if it wants to keep the signal-caller on a multiyear deal.

Per Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano, the Giants offered Barkley a contract worth $12 million annually during their Week 9 bye, which didn’t satisfy his demands. The NFC East reporter also heard that the running back wants a deal “near Christian [McCaffrey’s] $16M average.”

Wherever Barkley signs in free agency, he’s unlikely to ink a deal for that top-of-the-market salary, but he may get around $14 million per year from Big Blue, which is a number that ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reported through his sources.

Projected contract: Four years, $56 million ($33 million guaranteed)