The running back position took another nail in the coffin Monday when all three of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard failed to fetch new deals from their respective teams. While there is a worse outcome than the lucrative franchise tag, it is the precedent being set that frightens other running backs.
Josh Jacobs Tells Media Members To “Stop Lying”
The Raiders made it abundantly clear this offseason that they weren’t budging at the negotiation table. At least not to the tune of a market-setting contract. But if you listen to Jacobs, the 2022 All-Pro was not asking for a top-of-the-market deal.
Ultimately, none of us have any way of knowing where the truth actually sits. Neither side is necessarily in a position to spill all the beans, so take everything you see and read with a grain of salt.
That leads us to Saquon Barkley and the Giants. The former No. 2 overall pick posted the best season of his career in 2022, serving as the catalyst to a surprising playoff run. Still, Barkley was unable to secure a second contract, instead being forced into the franchise tag — or nothing at all.
Tony Pollard arguably got the rawest deal of them all. Not only did the Cowboys refuse his extension overtures, but Pollard also saw his 2022 season cut short due to injury. He is rehabbing, and reports say the former Memphis star is doing well. But this showcases the downside of the franchise tag.
Let’s say Pollard suffers a similar injury this coming season. He would be another year older, with a second-straight major injury. If you think teams undervalue healthy running backs, imagine what the offers will look like for Pollard if all goes bad. Now you see where he is coming from.
Matt Miller Incites A Riot On Twitter
Monday afternoon, following the news of no extensions for the three star running backs, several peers chimed in on Twitter. No one was as outspoken as Colts’ star Jonathan Taylor. His reply to a tweet sent out by ESPN’s Matt Miller says it all.
Sheesh. It comes off as harsh, but Taylor is 100 percent right. This is exactly how NFL front offices view the running back position. And they don’t even try to hide it anymore.
More tweets came rolling out, as Derrick Henry, Najee Harris, Christian McCaffrey, and Austin Ekeler all made their voices heard by calling out the NFL as a whole (and its analytical fans).
To say the running backs are fed up would be the understatement of the century. What’s worse — the league shows no signs of changing. It is difficult to bash general managers too much. There have been more examples of contracts flopping than success stories.
Ezekiel Elliott signed an otherworldly $90 million deal and was cut only halfway through it. Dalvin Cook agreed to a lesser contract, albeit still with a hefty $53 million price tag. Like Elliott, Cook received a pink slip this offseason as the Vikings aimed to cut salaries. From focal points of high-powered offenses to the unemployment line. Cruel world.
Even Joe Mixon, who avoided being released, had to give up millions of dollars just to keep the Bengals from cutting him. No one is safe.
In short: the NFL’s devaluation of the running back position is not unwarranted. But neither is the disrespect these same running backs feel from the franchises they give their blood, sweat, and tears to. Both sides are justified, but only one side suffers. Hint: it isn’t the billionaire owners. It is the Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard’s of the world.