It’s been interesting to watch how the agent market for running backs has developed so far this offseason. With only Jerick McKinnon receiving a significant contract of 4 years $30 million from San Francisco (and only a one year guarantee) it’s worth asking, will running backs ever get a fair shake with their contracts?
While Le’Veon Bell not getting what he wants from the Steelers is nothing new, it’s still crazy running backs can’t get paid, right? Going into 2018 only 2 RB’s will earn over $10 mil a year and that’s Bell and the recently signed McKinnon. When you look at the wide receiver salaries, it’s crazy to think that the likes of Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills are garnering the same money that a top paid running back will make… with double the guarantees! Damn, it’s shitty to be a running back!
Consider the fact that Le’Veon bell has averaged 80 catches and over 600 yards receiving the last two years in addition to his rushing, you’d think he’d have to get paid, right? Apparently wrong. The issue is twofold for running backs at this point. First, there’s the obvious injury problems running backs will inevitably endure. I mean, Frank Gore is certainly the outlier.. runnings backs are injured, and injured often. Secondly, there are just too many good, serviceable running backs that it’s hard to justify a big price tag. In the last two years alone Ezekiel Elliot, Jordan Howard, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook to name a few have joined the league. The position is overflowing with talent – with many different styles of running backs being deployed in today’s NFL, there’s touches and roster spots for every skillset.
With the case being stacked against running backs why would you ever want to offer a 3 year guarantee worth $15 million+ to an older running back when you could draft Alvin Kamara in the 3rd round and pay under a million dollars? Well, for starters it’s not easy to find Alvin Kamara’s, and two – for as good as Alvin Kamara is, a guy like Le’Veon Bell is a transcendent talent who’s only 26, and most importantly, he has a proven track record. A matchup nightmare that is a top option at two positions Bell has proven his worth. This isn’t to say he’s being paid peanuts – his annual salary of $14 million is fair – but it’s me saying he deserves the guarantee. So when the next elite running back is eligible for a new contract, cough Todd Gurley , let’s remember they’re more than just running backs. They’re a new age slot receiver meant to put pressure on linebackers and safeties in the passing games, let’s pay them what they deserve.