Several veteran NFL running backs reportedly started a group chat to discuss why their market is disappearing and how they can improve the situation.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has reportedly set up a Zoom call with other backs to discuss their declining salaries and demand.
Pro Football Talk reports the NFL players union will be involved “in some capacity” with Saturday's call.
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Monday's lack of contract extensions for three key running backs drew the attention of backs across the league.
Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard all were unable to come to long-term agreements with their respective teams before Monday's deadline, leaving them with the decision to either hold out or play under a franchise tag.
Ekeler and other running backs were vocal about it this week.
“This is the kind of trash that has artificially devalued one of the most important positions in the game,” Ekeler, who dealt with his own contract drama this offseason, tweeted. “Everyone knows it's tough to win without a top RB and yet they act like we are discardable widgets. I support any RB doing whatever it takes to get his bag.”
“At this point, just take the RB position out of the game then,” added Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans, who is entering the final year of his four-year, $50 million deal. “The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization, just seems like it don’t even matter. I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”
“1. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you. 2. If you work hard enough, you’ll succeed.… If you succeed… 3. You boost the Organization… and then… Doesn’t matter, you’re a RB,” said Indianapolis Colts‘ Jonathan Taylor.
It isn’t just Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard who aren’t getting paid. Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette are among top running backs still on the market with training camps imminent. Ekeler even requested a trade.
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The running back market has been devalued because teams have found draft picks on rookie contracts are as effective as veterans.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco was a seventh-round rookie last season who ended up starting in the Super Bowl in February. The Houston Texans love what Dameon Pierce, a fourth-round pick, brought to the table as a rookie last season, and he’s slated to start once again in 2023.
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The last running back to sign a contract worth $10 million or more per season was Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns. He signed a three-year, $36.6 million pact with $20 million guaranteed in 2021.
Fox News' Scott Thompson contributed to this report.