by on February 17, 2023

Running back salaries had been steadily declining before hitting a low point in 2017 when there weren't any left on multi-year contracts averaging $10 million per year or more. The highest-paid running back was with a five-year contract extension averaging $8.25 million per year he received from the that preseason. In 2012, Freeman would have been the 's seventh-highest paid running back by average yearly salary.A reversal started occurring in 2018. The signed to a four-year, $57.5 million extension (worth a maximum of $60 million through salary escalators) with two years remaining on his rookie contract. At $14.375 million per year, Gurley's deal represented an almost 75% increase over Freeman's extension.The Rams released Gurley in March following a lackluster 2019 campaign in which he rushed for a career-low 857 yards. Gurley didn't play any of his new contract years since his four-year extension ran from 2020 through 2023. The 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year made out like a bandit from the deal. Gurley is $20 million better off from the extension than playing out his rookie contract. He quickly signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million Derwin James Jr. Jersey (worth up to $6 million through incentives) with the Falcons.Gurley didn't serve as a cautionary tale di suading other teams from investing heavily in a running back. Even with Gurley getting released, the number of high-priced running backs doubled from four at the end of the 2019 season to eight when this season started. Some believe there is a better way to allocate financial resources than paying a running back in a salary cap system. Here's a look at whether the high-priced running backs have been worth the money this season. TEN RB #22 The designated Henry as a franchise player for $10.278 million in March after a 2019 season where he led the NFL in rushing (1,540 yards) and tied for the league's most rushing touchdowns with 16 despite mi sing a game late in the season because of a hamstring injury.Henry really made his mark in the playoffs during the Titans' run to the AFC Championship Game. He became the first player to ever have two games of at least 180 rushing yards in the same postseason. Henry also set an NFL record for the most rushing yards during a playoff run (not including the ) with 446. His 148.7 rushing yards per game during the playoffs is the fourth-best mark ever in any single postseason. The Titans signed Henry to a four-year, $50 million contract Donald Parham Jr. Jersey (with an additional $1 million in incentives) right before the July 15 long-term deal deadline for franchise players. The first two years worth $25.5 million are fully guaranteed.Henry has picked up where he left off during the playoffs this season. He is on the verge of winning his second straight rushing title. Henry has a career-best 1,777 rushing yards. He also has the third-most rushing touchdowns with 15. Henry is the first player with back-to-back 1,500 rushing yard seasons since Larry Johnson accomplished the feat in 2006.More importantly, the Titans have the inside track for the AFC South crown with a 10-5 record. A win against the or an lo s in the season finale will secure the division title. MIN RB #4 Cook signed a five-year, $63 million extension (worth a maximum of $70 million through salary escalators) with $28,131,361 of guarantees a day before the regular season started. He is having one of the finest seasons for a running back in franchise history. Cook leads the NFL with 1,918 yards from Troy Reeder Jersey scrimmage (combined rushing and receiving yards). He is tied for the lead with 16 rushing touchdowns. Cook has the second-most rushing yards (1,557) and is tied for second in total touchdowns (17). All of these marks are career highs. His production hasn't translated into team succe s though -- the Vikings are 6-9 this season. The last time the Vikings had a losing record was in 2014. NO RB #41 The signed Kamara to a five-year, $75 million extension with $34,333,333 in guarantees right before the regular season started. The $15 million per year average is misleading because he has no chance of seeing the $25 million in his 2025 contract year. The deal averages $12.5 Jalen Guyton Jersey million per year through 2024, the first four new years.Kamara has bounced back from a 2019 season in which he was slowed by knee and ankle problems. He was the leading candidate for NFL Offensive Player of the Year when quarterback was lost for four games with broken ribs and a collapsed lung in a Week 10 contest against the . Kamara was practically on pace to break both the NFL single-season receptions and receiving yards records for a running back until Brees got hurt. Any chance at the records went out the window because Kamara was underutilized in the pa sing game with in the lineup instead of Brees. Nonethele s, Kamara is still a strong candidate for the award despite the lull in production with Hill. Kamara is leading the NFL with 21 touchdowns. He just tied an NFL single-game record with six rushing touchdowns against the Vikings in a Christmas Day contest. Kamara has the third-most yards from scrimmage with 1,688 yards. He is also 68 yards away from his first 1,000-rushing-yard season.The Saints have clinched the NFC South title. If the playoffs started today, the Saints would have the number two seed in the NFC. SF RB #23 McCaffrey reset the running back market after becoming the third player to ever have at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 or more receiving yards during the same season in 2019. He signed a four-year extension averaging $16,015,853 per year with $39,162,500 of guarantees in April. McCaffrey has a running-back-best $30,062,500 fully guaranteed at signing. 2020 has been a lost season for McCaffrey. He has been limited to three games because of ankle, shoulder and thigh injuries. Durability had never been an i sue with McCaffrey before this season. He had been an ironman. During the previous two seasons, McCaffrey was on the field for 92.4% of Carolina's offensive snaps (2,005 of 2,171 plays).McCaffrey is a prime example of why a running back should strike contractually while the iron is hot. Had he played this season on the fourth year of his five-year rookie contract, he would have been hard pre sed to reset the running back market during the upcoming offseason. Most likely, he would have been looking at a long-term deal in the same neighborhood as Cook, Henry and Kamara. There's also a chance the Keenan Allen T Shirts would have been reluctant to do a lucrative extension after the injuries, especially with general manager Marty Hurney's recent departure. DAL RB #21 Elliott has been trending in the wrong direction statistically since becoming the first running back in league history to sign a $100 million contract. The two-time rushing champion signed a six-year, $90 million extension, which made him the NFL's highest-paid running back ahead of Gurley, shortly before the star

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