NFL RBs, OJ Simpson Sound Off On Lack of Respect For Position After Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley’s Failed Contract Talks

Videos by OutKick

Monday was a dark day for the NFL’s running back market. We’re talking March 2020-levels bad.

The league’s RB market saw several of its greatest names — Las Vegas’ Josh Jacobs, Dallas’ Tony Pollard and New York’s Saquon Barkley — pass the contract extension deadline without new deals.

The players were franchise-tagged by their respective teams. Two players, Jacobs and Barkley, were in headline tug-of-wars all offseason as they underwent contract extension negotiations.

Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards last season (1,653). Barkley finished fourth (1,312) and totaled 1,650 all-purpose yards in 2022.


Both players were integral to their offenses’ success last year and still went unpaid.

@saquon / Twitter
Re-tweeted by Josh Jacobs

Franchise-tagged running backs faced a guaranteed $10.1 million deal for 2023. The highest salary number for a RB next season belongs to San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey at $19.5 million.

NFL Running Backs Team Up, Call For Money, Respect…

The reality of Monday’s RB market effect rubbed several players the wrong way.

Elite names at the position reacted to Jacobs and Barkley’s failed negotiations on social media.

NFL running backs like McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler and Jonathan Taylor spoke up and were shocked to see the players go unpaid.

McCaffrey tweeted, “This is Criminal. Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position.”

The NFL offseason’s contract talks upset Tennessee Titans superstar Derrick Henry.

“At this point, just take the RB position out the game then,” Henry tweeted. “The ones that want to be great & work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization just seems like it don’t even matter. I’m with every RB that’s fighting to get what they deserve.”

Los Angeles Chargers runner Austin Ekeler criticized the buy-low approach to the position seen by NFL front offices in recent years.

“This is the kind of trash that has artificially devalued one of the most important positions in the game,” Ekeler tweeted. “Everyone knows it’s tough to win without a top RB and yet they act like we are discardable widgets. I support any RB doing whatever it takes to get his bag.

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor also sounded off on the disparity between production and contract value seen among RBs.

“Wow,” Taylor cryptically tweeted after the 4 p.m. (EST) deadline.

“1. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you. 2. If you work hard enough, you’ll succeed. …If you succeed… 3. You boost the Organization …and then… Doesn’t matter, you’re a RB,” Taylor tweeted.

O.J. Simpson Chimes In

Even O.J. Simpson had thoughts on today’s value of the running back position.

Third-year Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris chimed in.

“I agree with my running back brothers around the NFL- history will show that you need running backs to win- we set the tone every game and run through walls for our team and lead in many ways- this notion that we deserve less is a joke.”

The market for RBs is, without a doubt, different compared to past decades.

Many supporters hope that the dip is part of the cyclical nature of the NFL’s economics.

Chances are Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard will sign their franchise tag deals.

After all, it took one year of franchise-tag football to upset former Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell… so we’ll just assume these guys are more patient and will play in 2023.

For now, the position will continue to be a young (and cheap) player’s market.

Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
Check us out on TikTok

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.


Leave a Reply
  1. NFL needs to do something about QB contracts that are sucking all the oxygen out of the water. QB is the most important position, but at some point, there needs to be a QB cap or a max % overall to the salary cap. The best QB’s deserve to get top-dollar contracts but average QB’s shouldn’t set the market just because they’re due for a new contract. It messes up the economics of the league. Daniel Jones earned a new deal, but he’s going to make $40M+ per year, which is insane. Maybe this is all cyclical, but I don’t see any evidence this will change anytime soon.

    That said, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott kind of ruined it for everyone. I think the Steelers offered him $17M/yr a few years back and he sat out. After that, dude played like one half season for the Jets and basically retired. Think he got a few million per TD scored that season when looking at it through the lens of production. Cowboys paid Zeke and he never lived up to the contract. In an ideal league, the top RB’s should be able to make $15M/yr with average and rotational backs making $5-9M/yr. These dudes take a beating and if this trend keeps up, no upcoming players are going to want to play RB.

Leave a Reply