Over the past few seasons, NFL teams have become more wary about paying running backs lucrative second contracts.
This offseason alone best illustrates that as Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are currently at an impasse with the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively. Both stars were extended the franchise tender in March, and are holding out of any team activities until an extension is agreed upon. July 17 is the deadline for the two sides to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, so talks should be picking up in the coming weeks.
Instead of paying their starting running backs, teams have opted to draft replacements or sign undrafted free agents to fill the gaps. It’s a much more cost-effective move that allows for teams to splurge at the other skill positions instead.
In an appearance on the ‘The Jim Rome Show’, free agent Melvin Gordon discussed the rough market for his position group and pinned some of the blame on Sean McVay and Todd Gurley:
“In my opinion, I think after Todd got paid and then Sean McVay came out and said, ‘I will never pay a running back again; I’ll just use them and then rotate them out,’ I think after that statement was made — and then I think they won the Super Bowl — it was like everybody just followed suit, I think. I kind of think that’s where everything just started going downhill.”
Gurley was one of the last running backs to secure big money from a team, signing a four-year, $60 million deal with the Rams following earning Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell also cleared rich deals in the offseason, but since then the market has continued to get worse for running backs.
While Gordon’s sentiment about McVay draws eyebrows at the situation, the head coach has never publicly said anything of the sort. Perhaps the on-field deployment of several running backs feeds into that narrative, though that’s nothing new for Los Angeles and the other 31 teams in the league.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for veterans like Gordon who are waiting to get offers, but it’s the new reality in the NFL when it comes to the position.
Sean McVay calls Kyren Williams bright spot during OTAs
Heading into 2023, L.A. appears poised to make Cam Akers their featured back in the offense though players like Kyren Williams will get opportunities as well. Williams in particular has been a standout during OTAs and McVay came out and praised him, calling him a bright spot.