Knowshon Moreno is a Miami Dolphin. For at least one year. He will make three million dollars. For all of us it’s a deal we all wish we could make. For an NFL RB it is a sign of how low the position has fallen from team importance. Adrian Petterson should take note.
RB’s are not quite a dime a dozen yet but the two headed approach most NFL teams have taken to make featured backs almost extinct. Sure Petterson gets the load now but in another few years if that long he will find his touches decrease as another back now nameless poaches the goal line and short yardage carries or comes in on passing downs. It’s the new NFL and it’s costing runners money.
Maurice Jones-Drew was a free agent this year and felt the impact of that market for the first time officially in his career. He signed with the Raiders after almost no interest from the rest of the NFL. His contract? 2.5 million and it’s not all guaranteed. Welcome to the meat market Maurice. The same can be said for top of the market Ben Tate who signed a not so flashy deal with the Cleveland Browns, in Tennessee the Titans can’t get rid of Chris Johnson and his 4.5 million dollar contract. Why? Running backs are no longer worth that much.
RB’s have always had a certain degree of shelf life. A runner reaches thirty and bon voyage! Conversely a WR can make a career last into his low 30’s if he can stay healthy. Lineman easily get paid into their early to mid-30’s. Running backs? They get the first shot at waiting for their phone to ring.
The NFL has become a faster paced passing game and the days of ground and pound attacks have given way to the fast food football offenses. Quick gratification. Get your team in the end zone and expect your defense to step up and stop the opposition. Fear not all ye young runners in Pop Warner or in high-school. It’s not time to change positions just yet. The return of RB focus will eventually return and teams will grind it again like they used to. The Miami Dolphins by that time should successfully figure out their passing game by then.
For now, the RB is no longer the top draw behind the QB. It’s a WR market and even the big lineman that get poached are now more solid in the passing game.
The draft too takes a hit as teams are no longer ponying up high-first round picks to grab one. Ronnie Brown and Cedrick Benson at two and three? Cadillac Williams at five? Not any more. It’s a rare talent alone that might draw that kind of interest and even then a top five team could trade back and land him.
Knowshon Moreno, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Tate, they are only the next season of running backs to feel that pinch. They won’t be the last.