Second contracts haven’t been granted, franchise tags haven’t been signed and frustrations shared on social media. Sports analysts have debated the value of running backs this past week.
Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs couldn’t sign a long-term contract by July 17. Barkley and Jacobs were offered franchise tags this offseason. Both running backs haven’t signed their franchise tags and plan to skip training camp.
The running back market has plummeted recently and running backs are upset. Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey shared their frustrations regarding Jacobs and Barkley’s contract situation. Henry said the NFL should eliminate the running back position. McCaffrey said, “It’s criminal. Three of the best players in the league regardless of position.” Taylor said running backs don’t matter when it’s time to get paid.
This is Criminal. Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position. https://t.co/zDXRS5cGdu
— Christian McCaffrey (@CMC_22) July 17, 2023
I understand why running backs are upset. Running backs are valuable pieces on football teams. Running backs are required to catch passes, pass protect and run inside and outside. Running backs sacrifice their bodies to help their teams win.
Being a running back is a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from making plays, setting up play-action passing and dominating opposing defenses. Another blessing is closing out a game with a big run that gains a first down.
The curse is that most running backs depreciate quickly. Running backs hit the ground running during their rookie contracts. Injuries happen because of the miles running backs accumulate. Alvin Kamara, McCaffrey, Henry, Taylor, Barkley and Dalvin Cook have all been injured. It’s what comes with the position.
Some teams have elected to go running back by committee. Committee systems split carries between multiple running backs. As more teams choose the committee system running backs won’t get fair compensation.
You Don’t Have to Be Great
Teams don’t need great running backs to succeed. College football is littered with talented running backs. Not all college running backs will be great NFL running backs like Henry and McCaffrey. If a running back has vision, a little speed and understands the game they can succeed in the NFL.