Don’t laugh. It could happen. A recent trend within the NFL has teams not paying runningbacks nearly as much as players who man other positions.
More evidence of the trend continuing came clear this week as a trio of All-Pro runningbacks, Saquan Barkley (NY GIants), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders), and Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys), weren’t offered long-term deals and appear destined to play for the one-year $10.1-million franchise tag salary.
I know we should not feel sorry for the three backs who will pocket $10 million this upcoming season. But it is relative and there are several position groups making more money.
The beforementioned trio were very productive and are clearly three of the top ten runningbacks in the league. Jacobs was the NFL’s leading rusher last season with 1,653 yards and Barkley was fourth with 1,312. Pollard rushed for 1,007 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry in 2022.
If there are any three backs who deserve long term contracts, these guys are it. But wait, proving the theory that franchises are not valuing runningbacks is the fact that three-time All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and four-time Pro Bowl pick Dalvin Cook were released by Dallas and Minnesota respectively are still unemployed.
Teams are drafting runningbacks out of college and running them hard for the four years of the players rookie contract. Then they refuse to give a long term contract out or release them before drafting another rookie.
Proof of this practice being in existence is the fact that only one of the 27 running backs who rushed for more than 800 yards in 2022 was over the age of 30. Older players are clearly being tossed aside just as they are due a big paycheck.
Check this out. The average salary of a kicker ($2.26 million) is greater than that of a running back ($1.81 million) in 2023.
I never thought we would see a day when that would be the case.