Moreno deal reconfirms poor state of running back market


With the exception of Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, it still doesn’t pay to be a running back.

This year, the top of the market has stagnated at $3.5 million per year for the likes of Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown (both of whom signed three-year contracts in Jacksonville and San Diego, respectively) and Ben Tate (who signed a two-year deal in Cleveland).  For former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno, the best deal consisted of $2.5 million in signing bonus and base salary, along with another $500,000 in roster bonuses, per a source with knowledge of Moreno’s one-year contract in Miami.

That’s a max package of $3 million.  For a guy who gained more than 1,000 yards in 2013.

It doesn’t bode well for Maurice Jones-Drew, who surely doesn’t like what he’s hearing now that he finally has made his way to the open market.  Jones-Drew reportedly has expanded his search to include Oakland, which already has brought back Darren McFadden on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, half the current market rate.

It also doesn’t bode well for Titans running back Chris Johnson, who’s destined to earn a lot less than $8 million in 2014 on a new team.

And at some point it may not bode well for Peterson, whose Vikings contract pays out $12 million, $13 million, $15 million, and $16 million over the next four years.  Ditto for McCoy, who has cap numbers in Philly of $9.7 million, $11.95 million, $8.85 million, and $7.85 million from 2014 through 2017.

With so many running backs available for so much less money, either on the open market or in the draft, the days of the big-money tailback likely will end as soon as the Vikings and Eagles decide that the remaining abilities of Peterson and McCoy don’t justify the ongoing financial investment.

94 responses to “Moreno deal reconfirms poor state of running back market

  1. Having teams and leadership like the Dolphins and Jets leave Patriots fans feeling warm and fuzzy !!

  2. Knowshon is a good player, but not a superstar by any means. That’s one of the issues with the RB position is there are very few players that separate themselves to be at that higher level, and there’s a massive glut of players at all levels below Tier 1. If you aren’t in that tier, then you are in a very crowded tier.

  3. With more teams depending on more than 1 back, teams are saying why overpay for one, when I can pick up another, younger, fresher guy to replace him on the cheap.

    Guys like Shady and AP are exceptions to this… but even Peyton Manning got let go.

  4. Running Back as we know it is doomed.

    The shortest average career due to the physical toll the position takes upon the player.

    Seriously declining wages.

    Declining importance in scheme.

    It will be interesting to see how this manifests itself in highschool and college – when kids begin to shape themselves for the “next stage”.

  5. McCoy is not going anywhere. That offense runs off his dynamic rushing abilities. Say what you want about easily-found-replacements but I’ve watched a lot of games where he just took over.

    As for Peterson, I’m not sure. I can see him becoming something of a malcontent (not in the public but to the front office) if the Vikings keep losing these next few years. They could have a mutual departure and he’d join a possible contender.

    The rest of em’, you have a point. You’re seeing more and more teams get equal or greater production out of a stable of different running backs with different styles rather than the typical workhorse back who gets 20-30 carries a game.

  6. NFL rule changes make every player either a specialist or an endangered species.

    When fans realize they’re watching Arena league football for triple the price, it’ll evolve back.

    As for salaries … players should sue for collusion.

  7. RB’s are a dime a dozen. With a good QB and and a good OL, there are 200 guys out there that can run for 1200 yards. No way Peterson see’s even half that money and Chris Johnson will be cut way before he makes another $8 million. These RB’s price themselves out of jobs.

  8. What , you mean Miami didn’t get ripped off and grossly overpay for all their free agents the way everyone has been saying for the past thirteen months ? I’m shocked.

  9. I believe the ticking sound in the not far-back, background is the clock heralding AP’s dwindling timeline for gainful employment in the NFL, to say NOTHING of the sound of his future wallets deflating like punctured tires. Those salary figures over the upcoming years are purely FICTIONAL!

  10. If MJD signs with Raiders I hope he and McFadden sit down and decide which half a season each is going to miss.

  11. Miami had 245 yards rushing against New England last year. In two games. All rushers. Combined.

    Moreno had 224 yards against New England. In one game. By himself.

    This is on top of being a superior backfield blocker and solid outlet receiver.

    And, perhaps more important, Moreno should end Daniel Thomas awful presence on the roster. Heck, I’d have paid 3 million just for THAT.

  12. It’s misleading to act like AP and McCoy are the only two that have big cap numbers. In fact you could really just say AP is so far above everyone else it’s insane. There are plenty of RB making close to McCoy, and he’s the reigning rushing champ with a 5.1 YPC last year. He’s also only 25. Barring serious injury, I think it’s safe to say the Eagles will hold onto him.

    Cap numbers 2014:
    AP: $14.4 M
    Chris Johnson: $10M (obviously not happening)
    McCoy: $9.7 M
    Ray Rice: $8.75 M
    Arian Foster: $8.5 M
    Forte: $7.9 M
    Lynch: $7.0 M
    Gore: $6.45 M
    DeAngelo Williams: $6 M

  13. It’s a cycle.

    When a RB comes out like Eddie Lacey, Marcus Lattimore(who granted, has yet to prove himself), the RB market will be huge again.

    Once defenses focus on receivers only, it opens up the run game and the need to stop it.

    Most of us that have been on this earth a while have seen this happen time and time again.

  14. Might turn out to be a smart move by the Fins. Last year Mereno had 10 td’s with 1500 run/pass yards total and he blocks well against the blitz.

  15. To many of these RBs these days are special for one thing. be it running to the outside, or running up the middle, catching the ball, blocking, short yardage. so on and so on.

    not many can do it all anymore, teams all want 2 or 3 guys who specialize at one thing.

  16. Toby Gerhart et al are all 2nd/ 3rd string type backs, a superstar like McCoy, Peterson, and Charles(probably will re-structure) deserve every penny they get. Drew once was, not anymore.

  17. We’ll see how effective Moreno is with that vaunted Miami passing attack like he had in Denver.

  18. Thanks KM for a tremendous effort in 2013. Sadly, it was only in these past few months that he really seemed to be “getting it”.

    Those numbers, though small, are probably right in line with what KM brings to the table. He was a rock solid pass blocker, and did good things with the dump-off and screen passes in that Broncos offense, but no big run ability.

    Once in a great while, he would break through a wide open hole for a big gainer, but KM has very little ability to break tackles or make people miss.

  19. He still making $2.5 Million base with a potential bonus of $500K. While everyone has focused on the comparative earnings of other positions, that’s still a lot of money where I come from.
    Congrats to the Dolphins on getting a good player at reasonable expense. Manning might miss him.

  20. Enough of the rules favoring sissy boy offenses. Now’s the time for the NFL to man up and reinstate solid tackle football techniques such as the Deacon Jones head slap and the Night Train Lane necktie.

  21. ampats says:
    Mar 27, 2014 8:31 PM

    Having teams and leadership like the Dolphins and Jets leave Patriots fans feeling warm and fuzzy !!
    Yeah! Your leadership produces felons, DUIs, and murderers!! Not to mention CHEATING!! FEEL FUZZY!???

  22. Chris Johnson is not worth every cent..
    Hopefully he reads this and realizes that he’s over paid for what his production has been the last 3 yrs. The Titans have gave him $30 mil the last 3 seasons, he was rewarded for his 2000 yd season in my opinion but now he needs to be fair to the titans and adjust his pay with his production the last 3 seasons..

  23. One two punch with M & M looks attractive in our new offense. A whole variety of plays can cine up with M & M from the back field. It should be very interesting plus a solid protection for RT. Good move.

  24. ampats says:
    Mar 27, 2014 8:31 PM
    “Having teams and leadership like the Dolphins and Jets leave Patriots fans feeling warm and fuzzy !!”


    I guess you forgot his warm and fuzzy stats against NE, ampats….

    224 yards, 1 TD on 37 carries (At NE, 11/24/13)

  25. Or a super winner in the near future has an offense that includes two backs who both approach 1000 yards are on the field together with a very good defense and a limited passing game.

    What goes around comes around.

  26. The NFL is a business and RB’s right now are not a hot commodity. That doesn’t mean it will be like that forever but it’s a buyers market and right now teams are buying low on the RB position.

  27. No RB is worth much more than what Moreno got, not these days. In fact I would say Moreno got way overpaid. In today’s pass-happy NFL capable RBs can be found in the late rounds of the draft. Keep on the cheap until the rookie deal expires & draft another one. There are no exceptions to this, not even AP. I wouldn’t give AP more than $4M a year, honestly. This is why CJ will not be a Titan this year & also why no one is going to trade for him, well the Raiders or Browns might but you catch my drift.

  28. It’s an upgrade for Miami but the message to running backs is clear; they are no longer a sought after commodity as in years past. This fact is not matching up with expectations of the player and their agents.

    @anpsteel: that would be a disaster, i.e., equality of pay. Look at the TE/WR mess with J. Graham in NO. If what you say happens, the NFL will be forced to delineate skills set like in a position description in a ‘real’ job, and justify why the QB is such a hero with all that time to throw but the LT who gives him that time to showcase his throwing skills is paid considerably less. LOL.

    I’m wondering what is the career path to becoming a union boss/rep/foreman, etc. because jobs are coming.

  29. Not a Broncos fan and not a Dolphins Fan but will say this transaction keeps Denver from returning to the Super Bowl — Peyton better pray for a RB that can read protection and secure the ball next year.

  30. If Peyton Manning had never gone to Denver, this contract would make perfect sense. The guy never lived up to expectations until he had defenses worried about the pass.

    Adrian Peterson plays on a team where the defenses know to watch for the run. It makes a huge difference when you consider a running backs value.

  31. At least Miami has another guy with his last name starting with the letter “M” and ending with the letter “O”

    Too bad the letters in between and his talent dont equal out the same

  32. Hey well they don’t have to get that much yards running then since they don’t like to pay rb

  33. Agreed I said the other day that the NFL is turning into the Arena league. These rule changes are just ridiculous. Roger maybe the worst commissioner ever

  34. 56 million for Peterson over the next 4 years bwahahahah! Somebody tell Minnesota it is a passing league and they are still stuck in the 80’s. No wonder they are doormats in the NFC North. Any progressive team sees down the road and has had their qb in place for years not a stable of backups with all the eggs in 1 basket with a rb. Man I love Spieladope!

  35. It’s a new age of high flying passing attacks. That’s why the Seattle Seahawks dominated the most high flying passing attack in NFL history with a stout defense and a ground and pound offense. The NFL is a league of trends and everything is cyclical.

  36. I think it also has a lot to do with the skill at the position. Outside of Peterson, McCoy, and Forte there is really no consistent threat any team has coming out of the RB position. I think we’re just seeing a lack of talent, and not necessarily the position becoming obsolete.

  37. Lacy looks like the best performing dollar-for-dollar RB in the league at the moment.

  38. RussianBreadMaker says: Mar 27, 2014 8:26 PM

    Alfred Morris will be the Super Bowl MVP this year.

    Man, I didn’t even realize he was traded from Washington.

  39. I think the Moreno deal only reconfirms the poor state of Knowshon Moreno, an okay back who looks like a starter when he’s lined up with Peyton Manning and four guys who caught 10 or more touchdown passes each.

  40. The Trent Richardson nonsense needs to stop. The Colts gave up the 26th pick and will pay the guy 5 million dollars over the next two years.

    The last 5 26th picks…Datone Jones (limited playing time in 2013), Whitney Mercilus(limited playing time first 2 years), Jonathon Baldwin(44 catches in 3 seasons), Dan Williams (0 starts in 1st season, limited playing time in 2nd season, solid starter now), and Clay Matthews (stud).

    One out of five was a starter in the first two seasons…none of the other were a sure thing until the 3rd season. Even if Richardson doesn’t pan out, he is on a rookie contract. Enough already!

  41. Moreno deal reconfirms poor state of running backS IN THE market

    Fixed that for you

  42. The best RB in the NFL is on the best team in the NFL.

    You know, the one who dismantled Denver in the SB.

  43. The super studs will always make money, no matter what season it is. These other guys are not proven studs. However, yes, at some point, maybe starting now, RB’s will be more disposable.

  44. higheriqthanyou says: Mar 28, 2014 9:29 AM

    The best RB in the NFL is on the best team in the NFL.

    You know, the one who dismantled Denver in the SB.

    Dude remove the IQ from your ID and you’re dead on.

  45. Why should anyone be surprised that the value of Running Backs have declined?…. The NFL has been reconfiguring the rule book to promote passing ANY chance they can get.

  46. As far as the guy who said Running Backs should sue for collusion b/c they are making less nowadays, that is B.S.
    Years ago Offensive linemen couldn’t make any money and were considered big dumb oafs.
    Now they are considered more valuable in the grand scheme of things and are getting paid more as their importance changed due to the passing game.
    It’s called the free market.
    Demand has shifted based on the league being more pass-happy.
    Nobody should be forced to or told how much they have to pay anybody.
    Players are free to take a deal or leave it.
    Just like consumers can choose to buy a product or not.
    The market determines value.
    It’s not like everyone’s making less, it’s that the need and demand and value has shifted based on how the game has changed.
    It’s simple–no need to make it complicated and start a social engineering project for RBs in the NFL.
    and, really, if a RB has a short shelf-life based on the position, so he goes out and makes millions of dollars over a few years and then gets on with his life in the real world. It’s still better than having to start in the real world without those millions as a buffer.
    That’s what’s wrong with this Country today, everybody wants to see a lawyer and get paid if they are slighted.

  47. AP is, in my opinion anyway, hands down the best back in the NFL. More than any other back in the league he has the ability to win games for his team, versus being a great part of a good team. For example, in Buffalo we’ve got Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller (and Lynch, McGahee, Travis Henry before them), who have all been great, top 10-15 in the league backs at some point, but none of them helped us win more than 6-7 games. I don’t think the Vikings are any better than the Bills, but AP is that much better that he takes over games.

    Having said that, even AP is one play away from a career-ending injury. Investing in running backs is just too risky unless you have literally the best back in the league.

  48. You have to keep in mind though that guys like Peterson make a lot of money for the fanchise as being “the face” and selling jerseys and putting butts in seats. A lot of fans would be pissed if they let him go just because you can get a guy like MJD for 10 mil less.

    Also Peterson and McCoy are a LOT better than most of those guys.

  49. Wow Brown and Gerhart production was far less then the combined 1500+ yrds rushing/receiving and 13 tds that Moreno had yet he gets half a mil less $.

  50. Let not forget Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams 10+million dollar contracts. What garbage it’s why we’re so cap-strapped. And they’re not worth that money by the way haha

  51. Just wait until the next LaDainian Tomlinson comes out of nowhere… It will be “game on” once again for RB’s. Once a dynamic super back enters the league again, it will begin an arms race for muscle, everyone hoping to compete with or copycat that new young back.

    In reality, with exception to mega backs like Tomlinson or Peterson, the vast majority of backs are as good now as they were then or will be later, but the emergence of one future HOF back makes all of his contemporaries very wealthy men indeed.

  52. The only thing I took from this article, was that the Raiders still paid McFragile $1.75 million. That’s about $1.74 million and change, more than he’s proven to be worth.

    You go Raiders!

  53. With the exception of Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, it still doesn’t pay to be a running back….
    Thats because none of the current crop of running backs could come close to holding AP or McCoy’s lunch box.

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