Running backs demand fair contracts as franchise-tagged players miss multi-year deals deadline

Franchise-tagged running backs, such as Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard, are expressing their frustration after failing to secure multi-year contracts before the deadline. Even Christian McCaffrey, the highest-paid running back in the league, voiced his discontent with the situation. He took to social media, stating that it is “criminal” that these talented players have not been rewarded adequately.

The franchise tag for running backs in 2023 stands at $10.1 million. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, could potentially find himself in a similar position next year. He expressed his disappointment with a concise tweet that said, “Wow.” Taylor later elaborated on the feelings of running backs as a whole, expressing their sense of being undervalued and disrespected.

Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans’ star running back, has an annual average salary of $12.5 million after signing a four-year extension worth $50 million in 2020. The Titans attempted to trade Henry during the offseason, but their efforts were in vain. Frustrated by the situation, Henry suggested that the running back position should be removed from the game if their contributions no longer matter. He showed his support for fellow running backs who are fighting for fair compensation.

Other running backs, including Najee Harris and Austin Ekeler, also weighed in on the issue. Ekeler even requested a trade during the offseason but ultimately settled for a revised contract with additional incentives worth $1.75 million. Joe Mixon recently took a pay cut to remain with the Bengals, while Dalvin Cook remains unsigned as he searches for a more lucrative deal.

The discontent among running backs highlights an ongoing struggle for recognition and fair compensation in the NFL. Despite their contributions to their teams and the league as a whole, running backs often find themselves undervalued and facing difficulties in securing long-term contracts. This situation has sparked a broader conversation about the value placed on the position and the respect running backs believe they deserve.

As the league continues to evolve towards a pass-heavy offensive approach, running backs are eager to prove their worth and dispel the notion that their position is becoming less significant. They emphasize that if they work hard and demonstrate their skills, their contributions should be acknowledged and fairly compensated.

Moving forward, it remains to be seen how the league and teams will address the concerns raised by running backs. The ongoing contract negotiations, as well as the shifting dynamics of the league, will play crucial roles in determining the future of running backs in the NFL. One thing is clear: the voices of these disgruntled running backs are growing louder, and their fight for recognition and fair compensation is far from over.