Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs both have big decisions to make as training camp approaches after not reaching a new deal with the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders respectively at Monday’s franchise tag extension deadline.
Barkley and Jacobs aren’t expected to attend the start of training camp, and they may not show up for weeks as the regular season approaches because they haven’t signed their franchise tag at $10.091 million. There is the threat they can hold out during the regular season, though they would be fined for reach game they miss.
With that decision looming, several NFL running backs fired out tweets reacting to two of the best in the game not getting the money they believe they earned.
It all started with one tweet that suggested organizations should draft running backs, franchise tag them once, and then repeat the process.
“This is the kind of trash that has artificially devalued one of the most important positions in the game,” Los Angeles Chargers starter Austin Ekeler, who dealt with his own contract drama this offseason, tweeted.
“Everyone knows it’s tough to win without a top RB and yet they act like we are discardable widgets. I support any RB doing whatever it takes to get his bag.”
Ekeler and the Chargers reached a temporary solution to his contract doubts, adding $1.75 million in incentives to his deal for next season. Prior to that getting done, he requested a trade.
Joining Ekeler was Tennessee Titans star Derrick Henry and Pittsburgh Steelers workhorse Najee Harris.
“At this point, just take the RB position out of the game then,” Henry, who is entering the final year of his four-year, $50 million deal, said . “The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization, just seems like it don’t even matter. I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”
Harris added: “I agree with my running back brothers around the NFL – history will show that you need running backs to win – we set the tone every game and run trough [sic] walls for our team and lead in many ways – this notion that we deserve less is a joke.”
It isn’t just Barkley, Jacobs and Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, who did sign his franchise tag this offseason, who aren’t getting paid. Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette are among top running backs that are still on the market right now with training camp imminent.
The running back market has been devalued because teams have found that draft picks on rookie contracts have the prowess to set the tone, like Harris said, in the run game.
Kansas City Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco was a seventh-round rookie last season that ended up starting for them in the Super Bowl back in February. The Houston Texans love what Dameon Pierce, a fourth-round pick, brought to the table as a rookie last season, too, and he’s slated to start once again in 2023.
However, like any position, there are running backs at elite status that want to be paid accordingly.
However, the last running back to sign a contract worth $10 million or more per season was Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns, who signed a three-year, $36.6 million pact with $20 million guaranteed in 2021.
For Barkley and Jacobs, they are not allowed to discuss a multi-year contract. They are only allowed to discuss a one-year deal that’s better than the $10.091 million tag.