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Trouble Brewing for NFL Running Backs

Trouble Brewing for NFL Running Backs

TROUBLE BREWING FOR NFL RUNNING BACKS – The running back position in the NFL has become a frustrating experience. Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, and Josh Jacobs have all gotten some first-hand experience this offseason to some degree.  

NFL New Deal for RBs

Ekeler agreed to a restructured deal with the Los Angeles Chargers. Tony Pollard is playing on the franchise tag, and the New York Giants were able to please Saqun Barkley just enough by signing him rather than having him hold out. He showed up to camp and revealed the reason why he agreed to the new deal (h/t SNY Giants):  

“For this year specifically, the best thing that I could do for myself would be coming back, going out there and playing the game that I love, playing for my teammates.” 

But Josh Jacobs, the reigning NFL rushing king, is not at camp, and frankly, there might not be a deal coming his way anytime soon. Jacobs was reportedly waiting in his car right before the deadline, but nothing materialized, and he has been persistent about not wanting to report to training camp.  

It’s been a busy few weeks, and running backs across the league aren’t happy with the way things have played out. Here are a few quotes from the big-name backs on the current state of the NFL market:  

  • Austin Ekeler: “We’re not just numbers on a page. We’re actual player, and we all have different impacts on each team,” per Joe Reedy of AP.   
  • Najee Harris: “We have no security. You guys are using us for what you want and then when it’s time for us to reup they go and turn the other cheek, they just ‘oh well you have wear and tear’. Come on now bruh. You want to utilize us as much as you can for cheap. Then, go get another back and do the same thing,” per Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now.  

College Trickle-down

Even college backs are noticing this trend as well. Ole Miss Rb Quinshon Judkins, who led the SEC last season, had some concerns about what the future holds (h/t Pete Thamel of ESPN):  

“So you can put me all over the field no matter what you need me to do as a playmaker. I think that as far as the next level, the way they’re doing those guys is because I feel like you can only do so much at that position because of the guys who are in the league and dealing with those situations.” 

Other Skill Positions 

For some comparison, Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet just earned a four-year extension worth $50 million, and he has yet to go for more than 600 yards receiving in a single season. Nonetheless, he is set to make more per year on average than Jacobs and Barkley.  

What’s the Next Step?

The top backs in the league assembled a Zoom call to hammer out some details and see what can be done, although it remains to be seen if anything will change.  

The running backs in the NFL have every right to be concerned with the way things are going, but the fact of the matter is it probably won’t change anytime soon.  

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