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.
James Robinson started his career on fire.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 12, 2023
Undrafted in 2020, Robinson ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns in 14 games. He also caught 49 passes.
Unfortunately injuries took away from what was a more promising career.pic.twitter.com/NrMNTGwO7n
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.
This is exactly what's wrong with the NFL & I get what the market is but a mediocre receiver can get a contract like this & be a bust but a running back whose responsible for 60% of your offense can't get paid. Daniel Jones threw for 15 touchdowns last year & got paid. pic.twitter.com/tN7o1dJAND— Juice (@lee_jakari) June 12, 2023
Josh Jacobs might do the same should the Raiders refuse to give him a fair deal.
Sometimes it’s not about you. We gotta do it for the ones after us ♂️— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) June 10, 2023
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.
Things can change FAST for an NFL RB.— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) December 21, 2020
2017-19: Todd Gurley leads RBs with 54 TD (15 more than any other RB)
April 2020: Rams cut Gurley
December 2020: Falcons announce Ito Smith has passed Gurley on depth chart pic.twitter.com/iNg3reAUbL
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.
good morning @TG3II— roberto clemente (@rclemente2121) June 5, 2023
3 years: - 2017-2019
touchdowns - 54
plays of 15+ yards - 75
plays of 20+ yards - 45
3 years since then - 2020-2022
rams rbs combined
touchdowns - 38
plays of 15+ yards - 57
plays of 20+ yards - 22 pic.twitter.com/1cOekxIm8f
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.
Being a running back in the nfl is just awful a team will give you 300 +Carries per season and run u into the ground on a cheap contract then throw u out once the injuries set in— Bieniemy Szn (@mari2slimeyyy) June 12, 2023
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.