Veteran running back market is soft, again

Getty Images

Running backs have a hard time getting paid in free agency. That trend apparently will continue in 2017.

As tampering runs rampant in Indianapolis, featuring teams meeting with the agents who represent impending free agents before the time for doing so officially commences on Tuesday, the chatter is that the available-as-of-Thursday running backs are getting limited interest.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the biggest name of the bunch, isn’t generating significant dollars via the wink-nod this-conversation-never-happened conversations. Unless the numbers climb, his best play may be to sit and wait for an inevitable injury to a tailback, which would allow him to skip the grind of the offseason program and possibly some, most, or all of training camp. At some point, Peterson may have to ask himself whether it’s worth continuing at all, given the money that quite possibly will (or won’t) be on the table.

Former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who is immediately available because he was cut, also hasn’t been getting significant play in Indianapolis. But it’s not just confined to the older running backs. For younger guys like Raiders running back Latavius Murray, the numbers won’t be there — just like they haven’t been in recent years.

It’s a strange dichotomy, given that the Steelers are on the hook for more than $12 million for another year with franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell. Most others will be hard pressed to get half of that, and many will be looking at a third of it, at best.

The dynamic often becomes a difficult one to process, given that running backs who perform well generate plenty of name recognition among fans, media, and the fantasy football crowd. So whether it’s DeAngelo Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy, Rashad Jennings, Justin Forsett, Danny Woodhead, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, etc., etc., etc., most of these guys won’t get paid, plenty will have to take a minimum-level deal, and several will end up finding no takers at all.

Meanwhile, new running backs will enter the NFL via every round of the draft (or not through the draft at all), and they’ll become the players over the next few years who gain yards and score touchdowns and eventually don’t get paid big money for it.

59 responses to “Veteran running back market is soft, again

  1. For a position that normally has a 3-5 year production window, I’m not sure what you expect. This is about as good as it gets. Lacy, Murray, and Gillislee still have a decent part of their careers to go. AP, Charles and Blount still can give you a year or two.

    With the franchise tag on RBs being as low as it is, nobody like Bell is ever going to reach FA before the team tags their last productive years.

  2. Peterson hasn’t been the same since his suspension year, both his burst and top end speeds aren’t exceptional any more. He can’t block or catch. What he will give some team is a situational power back. He’ll probably end up in Oakland or Dallas. Was fun to watch as a vikes fan in his glory days. Good luck to him.

  3. Exactly why I think AP will remain a Viking. I’m betting that the Vikings have told him what they are willing to pay and are doing him a favor by letting him see what else might be out there. In the end, he will take there offer and finish as a Viking. Only question is how much (or little) he will get.

  4. Blount will likely be back with the Pats. If he’s not going to get paid big bucks elsewhere you might as well take lower pay from the champs than a crappy team.

  5. I mean honestly what did you expect, this is considered one of the deepest running back classes where 3 to 4 running backs could go in the 1st round. Also the veteran running back free agency class is led by a 31 year old running back(Adrian Peterson) who has been banged up over the last few seasons and that has averaged under 3.4 ypc in his last 9 games. Then a 30 year old speed back(Jamaal Charles) with two acl tears in played only 8 games in the last two years.

  6. AP is just not reliable anymore. Fumbles in key situations and doesn’t block. Use to be special but now just another guy. Should leave the vikings though, that O-Line can’t block the School Sisters of the Poor.

  7. The young RB’s better be watching this and squirrel away most of their money. They probably won’t be playing very long.

  8. upnorthvikesfan says:
    Mar 5, 2017 12:45 PM
    Exactly why I think AP will remain a Viking. I’m betting that the Vikings have told him what they are willing to pay and are doing him a favor by letting him see what else might be out there. In the end, he will take there offer and finish as a Viking. Only question is how much (or little) he will get.
    *********************
    It would be fine with me if the vikes kept him. I’m just thinking they have McKinnon, Sankey and Ham already. They’ll draft one of this years backs for rookie money and use Peterson’s money on o-lineman or other need positions. He just doesn’t seem to fit the player or financial picture of the vikes future.

  9. Does sitting back and waiting for an injury ever work? I’ve seen this scenario be suggested in the past, I can’t seem to recall when a team has ever picked up the aging player in that scenario rather than fill with next man up. Especially at rb where the position is easily filled

  10. “At some point, Peterson may have to ask himself whether it’s worth continuing at all”. Of course it is; he can still earn himself some healthy money ($1-4M is nothing to sniff at) and if he, like most players, really wants that ring, he has the opportunity to prioritize that over money. I’m sure if he leaves money on the table he can catch on with a SB favorite with a good OL such as Dallas, and if so he would be able to split carries and so avoid the usual pounding.

  11. “they they have McKinnon, Sankey and Ham already. ”

    2 of those are entering their 4th season and have only gone backwards, including 1 being a late season practice squad addition in his 3rd season. All of them had an opportunity with Peterson’s injuries and couldn’t crack the active roster or played poorly and/or couldn’t steal a job from guys averaging 3 yards per carry. They are cheap, though.

  12. Pittsburgh is allocating too much money to its offense to just 3 players Ben, Bell, and Brown who are taking a large chunk of cap money. Meanwhile, their defense, the Steeler franchise legacy, needs an overhaul and has a lot less money to pay for it.

    Defense wins championships. Proven even year.

  13. tylawspick6 says:
    offense wins championships in today’s game
    proven every year
    you been asleep during these super bowls, son?
    —-
    I’ve been awake. Have you?
    Proven every year? In two of the last four Super Bowls I saw Seattle’s defense hold what had been the most statistically prolific offense ever to 8 points, then two years later I watched Denver hold Carolina and its MVP quarterback to 10 points in what was a tight game until the end.
    Needless to say, both won, and neither came in with what had been considered a “prolific offense,” although Seattle did go off in the Super Bowl (yet needed only 9 point to win).
    It seems to me that saying either offense or defense “wins championships” is somewhat lazy and a bit of a cliché. It depends on the season and the team.
    Proven every year? Not hardly.

  14. Peterson will (probably?) be back with the Vikings. Thing is, since the market is as soft as it is:

    1) the most he will be able to get is a couple of million.
    2) the contract will be incentive laden.
    3) he won’t be the featured back.
    4) he will see that the Vikings have drafted a RB that will be his replacement. The Vikings are already been interviewing RBs that are 3 down backs that fit Shurmur’s offense, i.e. shot gun, etc., which Peterson doesn’t fit.
    5) the contract will short term.

    Then again, if a playoff team wants him, staying in Minnesota is moot.

    Either he swallows his ego or he is out of Dodge.

  15. patsfaninus says:
    Mar 5, 2017 1:21 PM
    Pittsburgh is allocating too much money to its offense to just 3 players Ben, Bell, and Brown who are taking a large chunk of cap money. Meanwhile, their defense, the Steeler franchise legacy, needs an overhaul and has a lot less money to pay for it.

    Defense wins championships. Proven even year.
    ————————————————————————-Except your wrong……..Saints, Rams, Colts and several others have won rings with out a good defense. So have your Pats.

    Actually Special teams seams to win more than offense or defense. Kick returns and field goals have literally won superbowls.

  16. Murray may come back to Oakland. I’d still draft a bruiser to complement. Murray dances too much in the hole. Although, he’s a great pass blocker.

  17. Beyond the longevity and short term durability concerns, the low relative value of RBs may be because many only have one skill that doesn’t have to be taught – take ball and run.

  18. This article is ridiculous. All of the guys on the list who were ever studs got paid at some point in their career, just like Bell is getting paid now. Peterson maid like $15M or something absurd last year. RBs don’t get big deals after they turn 30. There’s nothing new about that. (and Murray is a bum which is why the Raiders let him walk).

  19. I like Fournette, Cook, Mcaffrey, and Kamara better than pretty much any of the RB free agents. But I wonder if teams are concerned with the first round signing bonus or total contract of rookie RBs? (looking at you Trent Richardson)

  20. Eddie Lacy is rarely finished……

    ……with the Vikings. He’s owned them since entering the league. Owned them.

  21. fartweasel says:
    Mar 5, 2017 12:45 PM
    Peterson hasn’t been the same since his suspension year
    ——————

    He only lead the league in rushing following his suspension…get a clue, dude….lol

  22. truthbetold109 says:
    Mar 5, 2017 12:57 PM
    AP is just not reliable anymore. Fumbles in key situations and doesn’t block. Use to be special but now just another guy. Should leave the vikings though, that O-Line can’t block the School Sisters of the Poor.

    —————————–

    The School Sister Of The Poor have one of the most ferocious pass rushes ever.

  23. allight59 says:
    Mar 5, 2017 4:29 PM
    fartweasel says:
    Mar 5, 2017 12:45 PM
    Peterson hasn’t been the same since his suspension year
    ——————

    He only lead the league in rushing following his suspension…get a clue, dude….lol

    ——————

    Wasnt that actually his injury year (and not his suspension year) where he came back and beasted?

  24. For most positions, the new union rookie contracts are a chance for a new player to develop, improve, prove himself in the NFL and get one or two big contracts later to really get paid. For the wear and tear a young RB goes through, plugged in right away, the rookie deals are terrible. Mommas, don’t let your athletes grow up to be RBs.

  25. “his best play may be to sit and wait for an inevitable injury to a tailback, which would allow him to skip…..”

    …. learning his new offense. Do you think before you write this nonsense?

  26. There are more capable RBs out there than there are job openings, and a team can secure a serviceable player for as little as $500K to $1,000,000 annually.

    The best of the group might be worth two to three times that figure, but anything beyond that is really hard to justify for the position and will only drain resources that a team will need to secure players to fill more expensive roles like edge rusher and cornerback.

  27. Regardless of where he signs, I just hope AP signs relatively quickly so this painful never-ending story in fact ends. On the other hand, it is interesting to see that no one gives a rats-ass about Edie Lacy — unless it’s to make cracks about his weight or performance against the Vikes (and he sure didn’t own them in recent years).

  28. If we do go after impact offensive players early in FA or the draft?That does not mean we won’t focus on strengthening the D.

    We have money invested in the Wr position the Oline but the TE position lacks production and an impact player.

    The RB position was productive by committee but that was because the two rooks had close to a thousand yards combine and Murray had close to eight hundred.

    No money spent at that position and no single impact player.

  29. If I were the raiders I’d offer AP 2 years 7 mill.. and I would stil draft a good rb in this draft that way the vet can help the promising rookie on his way out the door, ap gets paid and a chance at a Super Bowl, with plenty of playing time for him.. wish somehow the football gods could let the raiders nab fournette.. not a chance he drops out of the top 15 though.. the niners might wake up and realize they can get Jonathan Allen to go with armstead, if Cleveland really drops the ball and takes trubisky they could take garret which would be a nice start to a rebuild.. watch for the titans they might take Ross..

  30. At some point, Peterson may have to ask himself whether it’s worth continuing at all, given the money that quite possibly will (or won’t) be on the table.
    =====================================

    With all the illegitimate kids he has spread across the country, I have a feeling he needs whatever money he can get.

  31. The fact that most of the FA RB’s will be lucky to get $3 million, it makes you wonder why the Vikings paid Peterson $18 mil last year? That is just beyond dumb but then again, this is the Vikings we are talking about.

  32. I hope AP doesn’t come back to the Vikings. But, he should be happy that his career started when more of the top RBs were still getting paid big bucks, and that the Vikings had a few years where they didn’t have a better offensive option.

  33. Sadly, I actually think Jamal has a better chance at an NHL future than the Vikings guy who axe-murdered his own kid.
    That said, neither will ever be the player they once were. Face-offs matter, and AP just wasn’t good at them.

  34. Blount has been a model citizen and a key contributor for the Patriots. We all hope he is back.

  35. Commentators often speak anit the Patriots backs that play a big role in the passing game and it is a valid point. That said, it has been the big backs that have been key to every super bowl winning season.
    Antoine Smith, Corey Dillan and LaGarrette Blount won seven rings.

  36. I’d agree to that paycut. I’m surprised that players don’t attempt a position change in their latter years. Might extend that check a few years.

  37. When the job description is “run into a wall as hard and fast as you can” no surprise they’re looking for young men.

  38. The NFL has to come up with a better plan for teams. Paying one player generally the QB $20 or more million a year hurts the team. The product on the field suffers.It seems today you have two kinds of teams. Offensive and defensive teams. The offensive ones have the star QB. It doesn’t matter the quality of the player getting the huge salary. One player taking so much of the cap is wrong.These contracts have gotten out of wack. I used to be for players get all they can. But the greed from both owners and players have changed that thinking. No player is worth $20 some million a year.

Leave a Reply