Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Running Back Contracts Running Wild

Big Bad Morning Show
September 05, 2019 - 11:11 am
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By Austin Medina  

For years, the running back position in the NFL has been undervalued.

Contracts for draft picks are typically worth four years as first-round selections include a fifth-year team option built in.

As of 2018, running backs have the shortest career expectancy, at roughly 2.57 years according to CareerTrend. As running backs take the beating of a grueling 16-game schedule, most of the players’ careers are finished up by the time they are eligible for a new contract. By years four and year five, the running backs “best years” are behind them.

Star running back Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott held out and were reward rightfully for their efforts. Bell, now with the Jets, sat out all of the 2018 season and signed a contract with $35 million guaranteed. Elliot, who had two more years on his rookie contract, held out of training camp and gained a six-year extension, including $50 million guaranteed.

A third case study has come via Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon has a nose for the end zone, accumulating 28 touchdowns the past three seasons. That said, Gordon has ran in to a number of obstacles. The Chargers have been historically cheap, as former Raven Eric Weddle could attest to. Gordon missed four games in 2018 with an MCL injury. Lastly the Chargers are fine playing backup running backs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.

Most running backs have found themselves expendable, as has been the trend for several seasons. Only the elite backs have been compensated for their holdouts. The question with Gordon is if he is elite and if another team will trade for him, and evidently pay him.

The Philadelphia Eagles has made an offer for Gordon, which included a starting running back and a swap of mid round picks according to Albert Breer.

Several reports have indicated that the Ravens should show interest in Gordon, although no official talks has been reported.

The Ravens have a great system of running backs now and for good reason. With the run-heavy offense Baltimore possesses, imagine relying on one back to carry the load and then paying a lucrative contract.

The Ravens should stay away from running backs seeking big contracts. Baltimore should stick with their running back by committee, led by new signee Mark Ingram.

The running back position has come a long way in the past year. For a team so reliant on the run, the Ravens are in perfect position moving forward with three capable backs in 2019.