As far as running backs go, Christian McCaffrey is the rarest of the few. First, he produced at a very high level during the first low-cost years of his contract. Second, he turned that production into a huge market deal.
His $16 million contract, received after just three seasons in the NFL, bucks the trend in the position. It’s a trend he would like to see oppose more often.
“No one has asked me that question yet, but I have opinions on it,” McCaffrey said Friday. The Rich Eisen Show, via Yahoo Sports’ Tristi Rodriguez. “I think when you look back in history and look at what the position of running back has meant for football, they touch the ball more than anyone. And I was a guy who loved Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, some of the best to ever do that, and those guys, they didn’t just play for a long time, they played well for a long time, and I look at Derrick Henry as another example. Derrick Henry is older than me and this guy just produced.
“I look at what Saquon Barkley brings to the [New York] Giants, I watch what Josh Jacobs brings to the [Las Vegas] Raiders, all those fullbacks in the league who have done so many amazing things for their team. They’ve been clutching, they’re carrying the ball, they’re catching the ball in the backfield, they’re providing multiple threats, they’re creating lags, they’re giving defensive coordinators pause, and I think that has a lot of value.
Indeed there are. But teams are reluctant to pay for it, mainly for two reasons. First, the supply of running backs exceeds the demand. Second, the risk of injury for ball carriers is higher than for any player in a skill position.
“Somewhere along the line, the position of running back has been undervalued, in my opinion, for what they’re being asked to do,” McCaffrey told Eisen. “And I think there are a lot of guys who are afraid to talk about it for a number of reasons. I don’t know when the value of a yard went down. . . .
“So there are a lot of arguments in many ways. But I really think somewhere along the line, the franchise tag and what the market has done to running back, I think they’re definitely undervalued. And I think if you asked running backs across the league, they’d probably say the same thing.
Indeed, they would. Some running backs (like Ben Tate) said they should have taken a different stance growing up.
The change happened around the time Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson were at their peak. The Seahawks gave Alexander a huge contract after his 2005 MVP season, his sixth year in the NFL. At that time, the Seahawks were not paying for what he was going to do, but for what he had done. And, going forward, what he did did not come close to what he had done.
The proper solution would come from finding a way to fairly compensate young running backs who become star players on low-level contracts that, for drafted players, can only be renegotiated after the player’s third season. Earlier in the offseason, when Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was looking for a new team and a new contract, Chris Simms had a great idea during an episode of Live PFT.
Similar to the league-wide fund that gives players who don’t make a lot of money extra pay based on playing time. Last year, for example, Eagles safety Marcus Epps clawed back An additional $880,000 through the pay-for-performance program.
Why not have something similar for running backs? Young players who earn minimum wage and gain maximum yards and score many touchdowns should be rewarded for it the year they do so because by the time they have to sign a new contract, their teams won’t want to pay them. for what they have already accomplished.
It’s a simple concept. It should just become a priority for the NFL Players Association and the NFL. It should be. It’s a way to properly compensate those who make the game exciting (especially from a fantasy perspective) the year they generate the excitement – without forcing them to wait for a big payday that might never happen. arrive.
Christian McCaffrey pleads for running backs to be paid originally appeared on Pro Football Talk