N.F.L.’s Big Running Back Deals Will Lead to Sour Grapes

No one actually denies that Cook, Kamara and the others are helpful gamers who assist their groups win. But the faculty ranks produce dozens of burly, speedy, decided and inexpensive rushers in each draft class, whereas the trials of plunging into the enamel of N.F.L. defenses shortly put on down all however the rarest backs.

The distinction in marginal worth between a 26-year-old All-Pro with 1,000 skilled carries on his odometer and the everyday midround rookie doesn’t come shut to the prices: roughly $12 million per yr for the veteran, lower than $2 million for the rookie.

Furthermore, the rookie is extra possible to produce constructive outcomes. Of the 15 operating backs who rushed for over 1,000 speeding yards final season, 12 of them have been on their authentic rookie contracts and 13 of them have been 25 or youthful. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys was final season’s only one,000-yard rusher who was enjoying on a contract extension for the staff that had drafted him. Thanks to his $90 million eruption of generosity towards Elliott, the Cowboys’ proprietor, Jerry Jones, is presently trying to find unfastened change within the cushions of his salary-cap couch so he can afford to pay quarterback Dak Prescott.

Last weekend’s motion was filled with examples of the folly of overpaying operating backs. Cook rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, whereas his minimum-wage backup, Alexander Mattison, rushed for an similar 50 yards on six carries. Malcolm Brown, Gurley’s low-cost substitute for the Rams, rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns, whereas Gurley gained 56 yards and had one landing for the Falcons.

The Jacksonville Jaguars launched Leonard Fournette relatively than pay him Cook-Kamara cash in late August; he rushed 5 occasions for five yards for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, whereas the undrafted Illinois State rookie James Robinson gained 90 yards from scrimmage in Fournette’s place in a Jaguars victory.

General managers and coaches know that operating backs not often pay dividends on profitable contracts. Yet they proceed to persuade themselves that every state of affairs is an exception. Kamara is a key piece of the Saints’ Super Bowl puzzle, so why not threat mortgaging the longer term? (Ask the Rams about Gurley.) McCaffrey and Kamara are versatile rushers and receivers, so they are going to age extra gracefully! (So is/was Bell.) As for Cook, effectively, the Vikings merely get pleasure from paying retail for title manufacturers.

Some groups additionally simply need to reward profitable workers like Kamara and Cook for his or her exhausting work. That’s a laudable coverage in a league that not often does something laudable. Young operating backs promote jerseys, spur the fantasy trade, present thrills and encourage desires; it’s exhausting to criticize their huge paydays with out sounding like a grouchy, myopic bean counter.

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