Monday afternoon was the deadline for players to sign a long-term deal prior to the 2023 season. Yesterday's 4 o'clock deadline left starting running backs such as Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard, without the long-term deals that they felt they deserve.
Running backs around the league have gone vocal on twitter, voicing their disgust with the situation to a national audience.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris said the following on his twitter wall: “I agree with my running back brothers around the NFL- history will show that you need running backs to win- we set the tone every game and run through walls for our team and lead in many ways- this notion that we deserve less is a joke.”
Numerous questions arise from this situation, but perhaps the most important is “why are some of the best running backs in the league not being offered long-term deals with their teams?” Based on the trends, it’s because max contract running backs have not produced Super Bowl victories in recent history. Let’s take a look at the last ten starting running backs on the Super Bowl champions and where their regular season statistics ranked amongst league backs. (None of the receiving numbers were within top 10 for running back, but still wanted to add the numbers since it is a two-dimensional position).
- 2023: Kansas City Chiefs: Isiah Pacheco
- 830 Rushing Yards (25th), 5 Rush TD (31st), 130 Receiving Yards, 0 TD.
- 2022: Los Angeles Rams: Cam Akers
- Akers was hurt for a majority of the year, came back and was leading rusher in the playoffs.
- 2021: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leonard Fournette
- 367 Rushing Yards (61st), 6 Rush TD (33rd), 233 Receiving Yards, 0 TD
- 2020: Kansas City Chiefs: Darrell Williams
- 141 Rushing Yards (99th), 3 Rushing TD (57th), 167 Receiving Yards, 1 TD
- 2019: New England Patriots: Sony Michel
- 931 Rushing Yards (15th), 6 Rush TD (21st), 50 Receiving Yards, 0 TD
- 2018: Philadelphia Eagles: LaGarrette Blount
- 766 Rushing Yards (22nd), 2 Rush TD (55th), 50 Receiving Yards, 1 TD
- 2017: New England Patriots: LaGarrette Blount
- 1161 Rushing Yards (8th), 18 Rushing TD (1st), 38 Receiving Yards, 0 TD
- 2016: Denver Broncos: CJ Anderson
- 720 Rushing Yards (24th), 5 Rushing TD (23rd), 183 Receiving Yards, 0 TD
- 2015: New England Patriots: Jonas Gray
- 412 Rushing Yards (48th), 5 Rushing TD (27th), 7 Receiving Yards, 0 TD
- 2014: Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch
- 1257 Rushing Yards (6th), 12 Rushing TD (2nd), 316 Receiving Yards, 2 TD
To recap, only two of the last ten Super Bowl winning running backs have finished top ten in rushing yard and rushing touchdowns, while none of them have ranked in the top ten in receiving yards or receiving touchdowns amongst running backs.
So what does all of this mean? That is up for debate, but the one thing we all know is that the running back is a crucial position in the NFL. Some of the biggest legends in the history of the game are running backs, and they can be the difference makers in games throughout the entire season. The one thing that none of us want to see is what Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry suggested.
“At this point , just take the RB position out the game then . The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization , just seems like it don’t even matter . I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”
Brandon and I discuss the running back situation today on In The Zone on 96.9 The Game or the iHeartMedia app at 3 p.m.