The PFT Hot 100 contains seven running backs. Six of them still haven’t signed.
The only one that has — Peyton Hillis — got a one-year deal with a base value of $2.6 million.
So why haven’t Michael Bush (pictured), Mike Tolbert, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Kevin Smith, Cedric Benson, and Justin Forsett put their John Henry Johnsons on a new contract?
They all likely could have gotten new jobs by now, if they were willing to take whatever low-level offer someone may be willing to put on the table. But the market remains soft because the teams know that they can use an ultra-low-cost draft pick on a running back, locking up a kid with plenty of tread on his tires for at least four years.
It’s another harsh reality of the rookie wage scale. It was supposed to make more money available for veterans by holding down the cost of rookies. And while that’s now the case, more money is indeed available for established players, it’s going to be harder for running backs who aren’t truly elite to cash in.
For many veteran ball carriers, life likely will become a box of one-year deals, with fewer and fewer tailbacks ever becoming superstars. Which means that fewer and fewer of them will ever strike it rich.
And so our advice for the young, fast, nimble, and strong who can’t throw a football over them mountains? If you can catch, play receiver. If you can’t play cornerback.