The running back position in the NFL has long been a place where young talent gets used and discarded, considered to be as replaceable as any position on the offense. The advent of “running backs by committee” and specialized backs, along with the game shifting to a pass-happy league, meant the value for running backs dropped significantly since the halcyon days of the workhorse back as a focal point.
Recently, that’s begun to change as backs like Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Todd Gurley, and others have transformed the position back into a focal point with their versatility as runners and receivers, making them crucial to their teams’ successes. Bell is currently battling it out with Pittsburgh over a contract extension, and his cause was helped on Tuesday by Gurley.
The back entering his fourth season out of George signed a new deal with the L.A. Rams that will make him the highest paid back in NFL history, as he gets $45 million guaranteed over the course of his four-year, $60 million deal.
The deal shatters the record for guaranteed money, set by Adrian Peterson at $36 million with his deal in Minnesota in 2011.
Other teams around the league will cringe at this deal, while top backs will celebrate, because as Adam Schefter notes, this resets the running back market going forward. Bell, Johnson, and the rest now have significant leverage to hold over their teams in negotiations, and this represents a real turning point in the running back revolution.
As for the Rams, with Gurley’s deal done they should shift their attention to Aaron Donald, who has been waiting on a new deal as well. He now has some leverage to demand top dollar as they handed out such a contract to their offensive MVP, he’ll be looking to set the market for top defensive linemen.