All I wanted to do was enjoy my honeymoon near the equator but no, the NFL and their war against running backs basically forced me to produce an Olympus Mons eruption-level hot take which is that running back, who has put together back-to-back strong seasons to start their career needs to hold out so that they can ensure that they get at least one big contract and possibly the highly elusive second big contract.
What used to be one of the coolest, most sought-after positions in football which was reserved for the most talented player is now becoming a position in danger of not having many guys want to do it unless they absolutely have to.
Just think of old clips from NFL Films. You can hear John Facenda narrating clips of Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, and Franco Harris like it was 40 years ago. Think of all the highlights of Erik Dickerson, Walter Payton, and of course, who hasn't shed a tear watching Barry Sanders make everyone look silly.
I realize this is when running backs ran the show and we all know that today the NFL is a passing league. Calling it a passing league is kind of disrespectful to defenders whose job it is to stop quarterbacks because they know and we know that the deck is 300% stacked against them in terms of them doing their job. They're basically not allowed to do their job but of course, there still has to be defense on the field.
A single running back was the offense for teams and then it progressed to a platoon-style approach where two guys would split the carries. Then, and this is what really was the beginning of the end for the running back, late-round picks and even undrafted players started being really good.
Guys like Terrell Davis Willie Parker, Fred Jackson, and countless others started producing way more than there late rund or even undrafted status said they could. Great for them, bad for the position because told organizations that it was a waste of money to invest a ton of money into a running back after their rookie contract because why do that when you have a decent chance of taking someone in the 5th round and turning that guy into a player for 4 years and then do it all again?
The secret was really out when Le'Veon Bell held out with Pittsburgh and James Conner came in and had a terrfic year out of no where. That was damning for the position.
But the system isn't even set up for the unexpected guy to succeed. Look at Phillips Lindsay. The guy was undrafted and went to the Broncos. Then he had rattled off back-to-back 1,000 seasons in his rookie and sophomore year only to get released from multiple teams. Now, he just finished a year in the XFL for the Seattle Dragons. Same kind of thing happened to James Robinson over the last three years.
So who can benefit from the current system? Not many. Unless you're a stud back out of college that everyone loves, who has a high draft grade, then gets drafted high, and you produce good numbers for 4-5years then maybe you'll get a big payday like Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara. But don't think you have a 50% chance of getting that second contract like all the other positions do. Like the great philosopher George Costanza once said, "You have a better chance of discovering plutonium on accident."
As you can see Derrick Henry is over all this and you just know that all the other backs in the league agree with him.
I'm not a CBA expert or capologist but my brain tells me that for running backs to get more money they have to hold out much earlier in their career since their career is about five years shorter than everyone else. To me they have to play hard ball with these teams.
If Bijan Robinson kills it in his first two seasons, he should hold out heading into year three. If the running back position is going to survive the influx of athletic freaks in high school looking to become a quarterback, defensive end, or cornerback because it's not financially smart to be running back then a Bijan Robinson-type is going to have to bring the game to the organizations that are all set on not caring about the position.
Make the teams tell their fans that a young, stud running back who clearly is worth more than the contract they are okay with them not playing. They're comfortable doing that in year 5 but let's seem them do that in year 3 of a stud-back
I'm open for all types of ideas to potentially make this situation a bit better. The holing out after two years is the best I have.
Now if you excuse me, I have some Red Stripe and Caribbean Delight to indulge in.
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