There are a lot of reasons why teams are hesitant to award big second (or third) contracts to running backs.
The position has a short shelf life, it’s relatively easy to find replacements, and often the running game has more to do with the offensive line and system than the running back.
MDS wrote earlier how Chris Johnson was dead last in yards-per-carry among running backs with more than 25 carries. Johnson has some well paid company at the bottom of the list.
DeAngelo Williams: Carolina’s starter is second to last with 2.3 yards-per-carry. His longest run is eight yards. His teammate Jonathan Stewart has run and caught the ball much better than Williams, indicating that it’s not all about the line.
For now, coach Ron Rivera says the Panthers will continue splitting the workload evenly between the two players.
Frank Gore: Johnson is last. Williams is second-to-last. Third worst in yards-per-carry: Frank Gore coming off his extension. Now Gore is dealing with an injury. NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi thinks the 49ers should get backup Kendall Hunter more involved and we agree.
Gore used to be able to get to the outside, but it’s not happening for him so far this year.
Reggie Bush: The Dolphins are paying Bush $6 million to do what he did in New Orleans, but worse. Bush is averaging 2.9 yards-per-carry. It’s not like he’s lighting it up as a receiver either; Bush has two catches in the last two games. Daniel Thomas is the best running back on the team.
Three games is too small a sample size to draw any conclusions about the three players above. But the last decade has proven to us over and over that giving running backs a big contract usually isn’t good business.