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Current running back market doesn’t bide well for Cam Akers in 2024

Akers could be in trouble even if he has a breakout campaign

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The running back market hasn’t been very kind to players at the position looking to get paid by their respective organizations. Lost in the headlines Monday came news of the Patriots releasing James Robinson just three months after he signed with the team.

Robinson had a promising start to his career before injuries and Travis Etienne pushed him out of Jacksonville. He was unable to find his footing with the Jets following a midseason trade and is now on the search for his fourth team. Maybe LA will finally listen to me and give the Illinois State product a chance. I know it’s not gonna happen but let me dream okay?

Running backs are treated like dirt in today’s NFL because they aren’t valued like they used to be. Dalvin Cook remains unsigned after the Vikings released him. Saquon Barkley is considering holding out of the Giants’ upcoming campaign if he doesn’t get paid. Perhaps for good reason.

Josh Jacobs might do the same should the Raiders refuse to give him a fair deal.

Nothing about any of this is new territory for the league as fair compensation for running backs will always be an ongoing conversation until the end of time. The tension won’t magically disappear once the Los Angeles Rams decide whether to re-sign Cam Akers ahead of the 2024 season. This was already a touchy subject for the Rams given the Todd Gurley debacle. Life changed fast for the former LA star.

In all fairness to Gurley, injuries unfortunately wrecked his career and was cut before that blockbuster extension kicked in. The problem is that due to that financial blunder, LA’s front office will hesitate in handing out that kind of deal to another running back. Well, mistakes haven’t stopped Les Snead yet so never say never I suppose.

Despite the similarities in age for Akers and Gurley around the time they were due for an contract extension, they obviously aren’t the same player. At the time of his extension, Gurley was the league’s best back on his way towards a second-straight All-Pro nod. Akers ended ‘22 on a hot streak but hasn’t amassed 1,000 total offensive yards in a season to date. LA knew immediately what they were getting in Gurley. After three years, no one knows what to make of Akers. We may never find out assuming injuries take away more games from him this year. Clearly not one and the same at all.

Related: Why Cam Akers could be under contract after the 2023 season

Lack of high-end production compared to his peers along with a troublesome injury history doesn’t bide well for Akers. If Jacobs, the reigning rushing champion hasn’t received the payday he believes he’s in for, how much does Akers truly expect to milk out of the Rams? Average receivers get the big bucks in free agency since the NFL is a passing league and finds more value in their position. Running backs play the most physically demanding position and rather than be rewarded, they’re instead punished for their short careers on the field.

It’ll be a tough situation to monitor depending on how well Akers fares this season. Regardless of whether he has a breakout year as anticipated, don’t expect a long-term extension for him once next offseason hits. The market burned LA the first time around when they re-signed Gurley.

Believe me, the Rams will do whatever they can to prevent deja vu from burning them once more.