Three-time Super Bowl champion and FOX Sports analyst Mark Schlereth has spoken out about the current state of running backs in the NFL, expressing little sympathy for their complaints about the market and feeling undervalued.
During a recent appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” Schlereth addressed the ongoing concerns raised by running backs regarding their contracts and veteran ball carriers’ value in the league.
He made it clear that he doesn’t share their frustrations, stating: “Frankly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy. You know what? You signed a collective bargaining agreement. You gave the franchise tag. You negotiated things like less practice time. And you negotiate stupid stuff.”
“Hey, I’m part of that. I’m guilty.. I was a player, too. I understand it. You negotiate stupid stuff. They know you’re gonna negotiate stupid stuff. It doesn’t really matter. And that’s your own fault.”
Schlereth continued his critique, dismissing recent complaints from running backs about their contracts and the market.
“As far as the running backs having a stupid Zoom meeting and complaining and whining about it. It is what it is, that’s the market. So, quit complaining about it. I don’t remember any star running backs at the time standing up on their podiums, complaining about how unfair it is that the fullbacks were becoming extinct, as long as they were getting theirs.”
It's safe to say the three-time Super Bowl champ won't be getting the next invite to the running back Zoom – WOW, these comments you won't want to miss:#NFL #NFLTrainingCamp #NFLPreseason pic.twitter.com/UEiyAlOscb
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) August 3, 2023
The former Pro Bowl guard highlighted the reality of the current market for running backs. He emphasized that teams have been reluctant to invest heavily in the position unless the player is an exceptional talent.
This has resulted in top running backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard facing difficulties in securing long-term contracts.
In contrast to the significant increases in salaries for quarterbacks and receivers, running back contracts have stagnated over the years. The franchise tag for running backs, which was $12 million five years ago, has since decreased.
This devaluation of running backs is attributed to the fact that they typically spend three years in college before entering the NFL Draft, losing potential prime earning years.
Top running backs are bound to cost-restrictive rookie deals that limit their ability to reach free agency for several years.
Despite the challenges, players like 2023 first-round pick Bijan Robinson continue to enter the league with high expectations but face the realities of the running back market once their careers begin.
Meanwhile, this offseason, notable running backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook have been released by their former teams and remain unsigned by any new team. This further reflects the current situation and uncertainty surrounding the market for running backs in the NFL.
Do you agree with Schlereth that running backs should just shut up and accept reality?
Or do you think running backs are getting completely screwed?