The running back position in the NFL has faced some major devaluation over recent years.
Sure, some superstars still receive a solid paycheck. However, it’s not quite what it used to be in the league.
The game has changed into a pass-first concept, putting running backs on the bottom of the totem pole in terms of how teams value positions.
Well, Christian McCaffrey wants to see that change in the NFL and he makes his case during a guest appearance on The Rich Eisen Show.
One reason why teams don’t like to pay running backs massive deals anymore is due to concerns about durability. In comparison to other skill position players, running backs are more likely to suffer serious injuries.
Even so, Christian McCaffrey uses the NFL’s history as a prime example why he thinks it’s still a premier position, per Pro Football Talk.
“I think when you look back in history and look at what the running back position has meant to football, they touch the ball more than anybody. And I was a guy who liked Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, some of the best to ever do it, and these 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 I am and that guy’s done nothing but produce.”
Longevity goes a long way. McCaffrey has proven to be one of the most reliable options on the field when healthy. But that’s not the case for every running back.
Regardless, the San Francisco 49ers running back is tired of seeing other superstar talents struggle to sign a massive contract.
Here’s what he had to say about guys like Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs.
“I look at what Saquon Barkley brings to the [New York] Giants, I look at what Josh Jacobs brings to the [Las Vegas] Raiders, all these backs around the league who have done so many amazing things for their team. They’ve been clutch, they carry the ball, they catch the ball into the backfield, they provide multiple threats, they create mismatches, they make defensive coordinators think, and I think there’s a lot of value in that.”
McCaffrey makes some solid points. The players he’s named have certainly left their mark in the league.
But it’s not like the NFL is short on running backs. In fact, many teams have more than one running back on the roster who is capable of carrying the workload.
With so many players available at that position, why pay a massive contract for a superstar when you can have two or three running backs at the fraction of the cost?
Regardless, some of these superstars a complete game changers. Christian McCaffrey is one of them, as he’s been one of the top running backs in the NFL for several years now.
Maybe the league should consider changing some rules to increase the pay for running backs. It might worth looking into, as McCaffrey believes the franchise tag doesn’t help at all.
“So there’s a lot of arguments multiple ways. But I definitely think somewhere along the line, the franchise tag and what the market did to the running back position, I think they’re definitely undervalued. And I think if you asked the running backs around the league, they would probably say the same thing.”
This is certainly a discussion that needs to be had within the league. Having any position lose value could hurt the long term outcome for the sport in general.
In the end, Christian McCaffrey made some solid points and maybe the NFL should consider making some changes. On the other hand, it also makes sense why the running back position isn’t valued the way it used to be.