NFL running backs Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs.

It’s tough being a running back in the NFL. You’re not paid enough. The entire defense takes a shot at you. Still, teams need a good running game to be successful.

Here are five running backs with new teams who could have the biggest impact in 2024:

5. Josh Jacobs

New team: Green Bay Packers

Old team: Las Vegas Raiders

The Green Bay Packers are taking a bit of a gamble here. They released Aaron Jones, a player they drafted and developed, and replaced him with Josh Jacobs, who averaged 3.5 yards per carry last year. Green Bay does get younger since Jacobs is 26, but will he be an improvement over Jones’s consistency? Matt LaFleur hopes he’s getting the player who led the league in rushing two years ago (1,653 yards). If so, Jacobs will be a great complementary player for Jordan Love. If not, defenses might strictly focus on the young quarterback. Jacobs might get a boost from the Packers’ young and improving offensive line.

4. D’Andre Swift

New team: Chicago Bears

Old team: Philadelphia Eagles

Is it the player? Is it the system? Is it surrounding talent? We’ll find out with D’Andre Swift. In 2023, the Philadelphia Eagles traded for the former Detriot Lion. Swift rushed for a career-best 1,049 yards and made the Pro Bowl for the first time. But then, Philadelphia let Swift walk as a free agent. He signed with Chicago, where he joins a revamped offense. The Bears have a new quarterback in Caleb Williams, new wide receivers in Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze, and a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron. Swift will be under pressure to produce. The Bears need him to take the heat off Williams.

3. Aaron Jones

New team: Minnesota Vikings

Old team: Green Bay Packers

At 29, Aaron Jones is old for a running back. He’s coming off an injury. And the Packers cut him after he refused to take a pay cut. But now he’s playing for their NFC North rival with something to prove. Jones has been one of the most consistent performers in the league, averaging 5.0 yards per carry during his career. He excels as a runner and as a receiver. Assuming he’s healthy, Jones should be an upgrade for a Vikings offense that finished fourth-worst in rushing yards per game (91.4). The reasons for concern have nothing to do with Jones. Minnesota might start a rookie quarterback in J.J. McCarthy, and Justin Jefferson’s lingering contract situation could affect Jones’ production.

2. Saquon Barkley

New team: Philadelphia Eagles

Old team: New York Giants

No running back should benefit more from a change in scenery. Saquon Barkley goes from a team with few weapons to one of the most stacked rosters in the league. The Eagles’ talent will make Barkley’s life easier. Barkley has never played with a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, quarterback, or wide receiver. That will change in Philadelphia. He will be surrounded by tackle Lane Johnson, guard Landon Dickerson, and wide receiver A.J. Brown. Even with the retirement of future Hall of Fame center Jason Kelce, the Eagles should still have a top-notch offensive line. With the Giants, Barkley often had to carry the load with little help. Here, he’ll have more room to operate and make an impact.

1. Derrick Henry

New team: Baltimore Ravens

Old team: Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry is an outlier in every sense of the word. He’s unusually tall (6-foot-3). He’s unusually durable (280-plus carries in three out of the past four seasons). And he has an unusual combination of power and speed. Pairing him with Lamar Jackson could form the most devastating quarterback-running back combination we’ve ever seen. But Henry is 30 and is coming off his lowest yards per carry (4.2) since his second season. Was it the Titans’ terrible offensive line? Or is King Henry finally in decline? Even if he’s not at his peak, Henry should give the Ravens an immediate boost because he’s another weapon that defenses must account for. He could be the final piece for a Super Bowl championship.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.