Running backs aren’t getting paid lately, so who is?

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By: IMissFatRex


Highlighted by the holdouts of running backs Saquan Barkley (New York Giants) and Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders), one of the recent storylines surrounding a number of training camps is that running backs feel they are underpaid. This reported change in the “worth” of running backs is apparently a result of the larger analytics movement of “running backs don’t matter,” which hinges on the idea that the gap between the best running backs and waiver wire running backs is smaller than that of other positions.

While running backs are not being paid, the cap continues to go up every year. Which begs the question of “if running backs aren’t being paid anymore then where is that money going?” With that in mind, Jason from OverTheCap recently reported on the growth of each position over the last decade.

The first thing that jumps out is that running backs are indeed being paid less relative to the cap than previously. In fact, their cap figures have grown only ~24% while the cap has grown ~77% over that same period of time. To put that in perspective, running backs have seen the same percentage of growth as kickers and long snappers, two special teams positions that typically have contracts that aren’t too far off from the veteran minimum. To find any statistic saying running back contracts are similar to those two positions says a lot about what the running back market has become in recent years, and this puts a lot in context about where the outrage of running backs stems from.

The second thing is right tackles and guards have seen an uptick in value, as have quarterbacks and wideouts. Basically, I read this as saying the NFL is now valuing anyone involved in the passing game far more than they previously did, which makes sense given the general growth in the number of passes thrown in a game over the last decade. This greater importance on the passing game may also have a negative effect on running backs, who typically make their money in the running game. Additionally, the growth in these four positions also helps explain why these positions in particular are seeing increased importance in the draft as the rookie controlled contracts allow for additional cost savings compared to the market value for these positions than they would have in previous decades.

The third is that interior pass rusher pay is on the rise. While edge rushers have seen their contracts grow at approximately the same rate as the cap, interior rushers have seen their pay grow at roughly 166% the rate of the cap. For the Jets, this is relevant because of the $100 million contract that defensive lineman Quinnen Williams received, which would have been unthinkable a few years back, but does seem to align with the general growth in his position’s market.

Originally posted on Gang Green Nation – All Posts

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