Years of watching the West Virginia football program churn out a constant stream of capable tailbacks caused me to realize that plenty of college football players can move the chains with adequate blocking. Beyond the truly elite ball carriers, the position at the NFL level has become nearly as fungible as punter, kicker, holder, and long snapper.
Coupled with the trend away from workhorse running backs and toward two or three interchangeable options, big-name veterans with plenty of wear and tear and increased financial expectations fueled by fantasy football fame are learning the hard way that the big money isn’t there.
With the exception of Panthers, who gave 28-year-old running back DeAngelo Williams a $21 million guaranteed despite missing 10 games due to injury in 2010, the big money isn’t there. Marion Barber and Willis McGahee each will get deals in the range of $2.5 million per year; Barber’s last deal average well over $6 million per year, at seven years and $45 million.
It’s bad news for guys like Ahmad Bradshaw (pictured), Ronnie Brown, Jason Snelling, and Ricky Williams, veterans whose names barely have been mentioned at a time when teams can instead load up with younger, cheaper options who can do almost as much for a lot less money.
Then there’s Tiki Barber, who supposedly knew exactly where he was going but still remains lost in limbo five days into this crazy, compressed 2011 buying cycle.
The question for the remaining veterans is whether they’ll take what they can get before all they can get is a one-year deal for the minimum salary.
UPDATE: And we forgot about Clinton Portis. Apparently, so has the rest of the league.