Should Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs Get Paid?

Giants RB Saquon Barkley
Giants RB Saquon Barkley
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 6 - No, the New York Giants should not reward Saquon Barkley with a fat contract because of his outstanding play in 2022.

I know it. You know it, oh analytics-steeped Football Outsiders reader. And Joe Schoen knows it. Schoen just dragged the Giants out of a salary cap crisis caused by boomer football logic. There's no way he plans to start over.

The Las Vegas Raiders should not reward Josh Jacobs for his 2022 performance, either. Josh McDaniels and his general manager Dave Ziegler know this, too. McDaniels was such a Jacobs skeptic that he made the running back play in the Hall of Fame game, when even the starting towel boys were wearing baseball caps and drinking Gatorade. McDaniels didn't spend chunks of two decades in New England getting better production from James White and Rex Burkhead than Sony Michel and Laurence Maroney just so he could drop $60 million on the first bruiser to hammer out a few 100-yard games.

Miles Sanders? No, the Philadelphia Eagles shouldn't bite and won't bite. Howie Roseman operates on the salary cap's bleeding edge, and he has Jalen Hurts to pay next year. Roseman is also an early extender: if he wanted to keep Sanders beyond his rookie contract, he would have already kept him.

Barkley, Jacobs, and Sanders don't "deserve" huge deals from their current teams, no matter what they do for the rest of the 2022 season, because huge running back deals are always a bad idea. But does that mean they shouldn't get paid at all? They should just retire? Stand outside of minicamps holding up signs? We haven't crawled that far down the Running Backs Don't Matter hole, have we? They are all worth something once their contracts expire at the end of this season. But how much is "something?"

Barkley is second to Nick Chubb with 533 rushing yards through five games. Jacobs is third with 490 yards. Sanders is fourth with 414 rushing yards. Jacobs is third in rushing DYAR, Sanders fourth. Barkley is 15th, but Barkley is forced to carry the load for one of the NFL's least talented offenses, and he's also the most versatile receiver of the trio. Barkley spearheaded a Week 5 upset of the Packers to lift the Giants to 4-1. Jacobs cranked out 193 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in a near-upset of the Chiefs. Neither rusher looks all that replaceable right now.

All three of these backs are in the final years of their rookie contracts. The Raiders chose not to exercise Jacobs' fifth-year option after three seasons of high-volume, notch-above-replacement-level production. Sanders was a second-round pick: no option to exercise, and he misses a few games per year with various injuries.

Barkley spent so much time on the injury list from 2019 through 2021 that he's now licensed to operate an MRI machine, but the outgoing Giants regime exercised his fifth-year option despite a desperate need for cap space elsewhere. It turned out to be a wise decision in the same sense that calling for a stretch limo to take you home from the bachelor party is a wise decision: better than crashing off an overpass or ending up in jail, but not as wise as squeezing into a Lyft and saving lots of dough.

So let's extrapolate: Barkley and Jacobs remain healthy and productive all season. (We'll slide Sanders, with a lower established ceiling, out of the discussion for now.) They each rush for about 1,400 yards, with receiving value. They each hit free agency in 2023, along with Sanders, James Robinson, and some interesting B-tier options such as Kareem Hunt, Rashaad Penny, and Jamaal Williams. You are an NFL general manager. What do you do?

Ignore them, you say. Let Trent Baalke sign them (he should just extend Robinson now for a Duval discount*, but he's Trent Baalke). Draft a running back in a third round. Walkthrough hears you.

* Robinson was a UDFA and is essentially an RB2 behind Travis Etienne, albeit an excellent one. The Jaguars should be able to lock him up with lots of "new money" that doesn't really impact their cap much. See Austin Ekeler's Chargers contract for an example.

But then they sit and sit and sit through that first free-agent spending spree. How low must the market go before you snatch up a Barkley, Jacobs, or Sanders?

What Running Back Contracts Now Look Like

Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook all signed recent extensions in the range of $63 million to $75 million reported, $28 million to $37 million guaranteed, with Cook's deal a notch below the others. Those contracts were of dubious merit: Kamara and CMC have dealt with injuries ever since, the Panthers might trade McCaffrey for cap relief, and Cook is the running back version of Kirk Cousins.

Barkley or Jacobs could be offered $70 million in free agency, but it's worth noting that the Kamara-McCaffrey-Cook extensions all:

  • came from their current teams; and
  • were signed entering their fourth seasons: McCaffrey in April of 2020, Cook and Kamara in early September of that year.

There's a huge difference between a running back's value in his fourth year and in his fifth or sixth year. One early-career year probably represents, conservatively, about 20% of a running back's total value. If our Barkley Bunch was destined to sign such a deal, they already would have signed them. And you don't need an economics degree to know what a supply glut will do to values on the free agent market. So while it only takes one Baalke to offer a bad contract, most general managers now know to bargain-hunt when looking outside the building for running backs.

So let's lower our expectations a bit.

What about four years and $48 million? That's the Joe Mixon-Aaron Jones range. Jones is having a solid all-purpose season. Mixon is starting to come around a bit in an offense that's still getting in his own way. Is $48 million too rich for your blood? Even for, say, seven or eight games per year of Peak Barkley? Keep in mind that you could front-load it a bit like the Mixon contract if you are looking for a security-blanket rusher to help a young quarterback or back-load it Jones-style if you're the Bills in win-now mode.

Ah, but you are a cunning negotiator. Barkley has a long injury history (as does Sanders, lest we completely forget him), and Jacobs has high mileage. And again, the market is flooded! Best to sit tight, maybe grab D'Ernest Johnson on a one-year nuttin'-but-incentives deal, and build the ultimate coupon-clipping committee.

But why settle for Johnson? Nick Chubb is playing on a three-year, $36-million extension. It's a well-constructed, affordable little deal concocted by the analytics-friendly Cleveland Browns. You would scoop Barkley up in that salary range, right? No?

Leonard Fournette is playing for a three-year, $21-million contract. C'mon now, you hard-hearted miser: Barkley, Jacobs, and Sanders are all much better than Lenny. For just $7 million per year, you get Saquon's ability to take over games (when healthy), Jacobs' ruggedness between the tackles, and Sanders' darting, high-success-rate, perfect-for-shotgun-rushing consistency. Any takers?

Somewhere between the Fournette extension and the Jones-Mixon contracts, probably closer to the Fournette side, the running back cost/benefit equation levels out, and grabbing a young veteran with a track record and special attributes starts to make more sense than dipping into the draft.

Heck, somewhere around $21 million over three years, a Barkley would make sense for the Giants, Jacobs for the Raiders, and so forth. We said "fat" contract in the intro. A lean contract would be just dandy. In reality, though, there's enough demand to push Barkley/Jacobs/Sanders closer to Mixon money.

Love the Running Backs, Hate the Economics

Crafting second contracts for quality veteran running backs in the current marketplace is an interesting thought experiment. It's also a somewhat depressing one. Barkley has been a blast to watch and root for this season. It would be fun to pound the table for him to earn a $90-million contract for his services. But that's not just a bad idea from an analytics standpoint: it's a misread of the current trends in running back contracts.

There are folks on the Giants fan-o-sphere these days who are still trying to re-litigate the team's decision to select Barkley second overall in the 2018 draft. Hey, beancounters, is he worth it now? they ask after Barkley rips off a big run against the Packers, but before holding their breath as he briefly disappears into the tunnel with an injury. LOL, sure: Barkley is playing well and Sam Darnold is long gone, and 46 Giants losses in four seasons were all vindicated by a Sunday morning upset.

Barkley may leave the Giants with fond memories, and even a wild-card surprise. But unless he's willing to take a hometown discount for the ages, he must leave them for the Giants to become the team that Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll want to build. Cheering for the Giants to PAY THE MAN would just be cheering for them to make another big mistake. And the same goes for the other marquee running backs approaching free agency.

New York Giants Prop-a-Palooza!

Walkthrough hasn't done PropWatch in a long time! That's because it was never all that popular. Oh well, since we're talking about Saquon Barkley and the Giants, let's talk about Barkley and the Giants. All moneylines come from DraftKings, before Thursday Night Football:

Comeback Player of the Year Award: Saquon Barkley (-225), Geno Smith (+1000)

If Walkthrough were voting for CPOY, we'd select Barkley. But when wagering, that -225 isn't worth it. We based all of the salary speculation in the last segment on Barkley staying healthy for the rest of the season. We're not ready to risk real money on Barkley staying healthy for the rest of the season.

Walkthrough grabbed Smith when he was +2000 live on-air during Monday's livestream. Then the moneyline plummeted. Stop spying on me, sportsbooks! Even at 10-to-1, Geno provides value. He can cool off significantly and still be one Barkley high ankle sprain away from being 2022's greatest comeback tale, and CPOY is a storyline-driven award.

Coach of the Year Award: Nick Sirianni (+150), Brian Daboll (+600)

Here's your value, Giants fans. Coach of the Year often goes to a first-year head coach enjoying surprising success: Kevin Stefanski in 2020, Matt Nagy in 2018, Sean McVay in 2017, Jim Harbaugh in 2011, Mike Smith in 2008, Sean Payton in 2006. It never goes to a second-year coach who was successful in his first season but (so far) better in his second like Sirianni.

Sirianni would have been a likely candidate last year, but he did not receive a single vote. Players love his bruh-energy, but he doesn't make a very strong impression with the media (voters), who have come to think of the Eagles as Howie Roseman's team.

Look at it this way: Daboll will walk away with the award if the Giants can win five more games to reach 9-8. The Giants face the Commanders twice, the Texans, the Lions, and several other teams (Jaguars, Seahawks, Colts) who should be beatable, even once the Giants fall back to earth. Are there five wins among those eight games? Or four wins with one Eagles or Cowboys upset? It's worth 6-to-1 to find out.

Giants to Make the Playoffs (+105)

Our playoff odds report gives the Giants a 42.1% chance of reaching the postseason. The +105 moneyline implies about a 49% probability. Our methods suggest that you should hold out until +140 or so. Walkthrough thinks you should just bet on Daboll.

Giants Regular-Season Wins: Over 8.5 (-150), Under 8.5 (+125)

Again, if you are feeling a 9-8 Giants team, bet on Daboll for Coach of the Year or the playoff prop: 9-8 almost certainly nets a playoff berth in the NFC.

Giants to Win NFC East (+1200)

That moneyline implies probability around 8%; our Playoff Odds give the Giants a 2.9% chance of winning the NFC East. Even Giants fanatics should skip this one.

Most Rushing Yards: Nick Chubb (+275), Saquon Barkley (+400), Josh Jacobs (+750), Miles Sanders (+1200)

Does anyone bet on the rushing title? It just seems like shooting craps on who will or won't get injured.

If you do wager on the rushing title, skip Sanders, who shares carries with other backs and his quarterback. If Barkley comes close to winning the rushing title, the Giants probably reach the playoffs, so taking the Daboll/playoffs props insulates you from Chubb rushing for 177 yards in Week 18 or something.

Jacobs is actually an intriguing play for those inclined to wager on rushing titles. Here's why.

Las Vegas Raiders: Keeping the I-Formation Alive

One of the most delightful things about watching Raiders games/film this year is watching them run-run-run from the I-formation.

The alignment, an NFL offensive staple in the 1980s and 1990s, became obsolete before it's time as team after team shifted to 11 or 12 personnel and default shotgun formations in the early 2000s. But Josh McDaniels revived the I-formation, and it's fraternal twin brother the offset I (with the fullback shifted left or right), when Tom Brady left the Patriots before the 2020 season.

McDaniels has imported the I-formation to Las Vegas, where Josh Jacobs often runs good 'ol halfback Iso behind 255-pound fullback Jakob Johnson, while Derek Carr sets up the occasional deep shot with a play-action concept straight from Madden 98. Jon Gruden liked the I-formation, too, but McDaniels is willing to bust it out in the fourth quarter while trailing the Chiefs, and that warms the cockles of this Gen-X greybeard's heart.

Let's run some numbers, courtesy Sports Info Solutions. Here are the NFL's leaders in runs from the standard I-formation through Week 5. Plays from inside the 5-yard line are excluded so we don't just end up with a bunch of goal-line plunges that don't really reflect a team's offensive philosophy.

I-formation Runs, 2022
Offense Att Yards YPC TD
LV 35 177 5.1 1
SF 30 93 3.1 0
HOU 28 95 3.4 0
LAR 22 119 5.4 3
ATL 20 123 6.2 1
CHI 18 142 7.9 1
TEN 18 77 4.3 0

The Eagles, Seahawks, and Buccaneers have only used one I-formation run each so far in 2022. (Again, goal-line runs are excluded, including Philly's mighty SKINNY BATMEN-I.) The Bengals have handed off from it just twice. The Commanders, Giants, Patriots, Jets, Colts, and Cardinals have not run from the I-formation at all in non-goal line situations.

Let's slide the fullback over a few steps and take a look at the offset I-formation runs:

Offset I-formation Runs, 2022
Offense Att Yards YPC TD
LV 16 122 7.6 0
TB 15 68 4.5 0
HOU 13 111 8.5 1
MIA 12 63 5.3 0
DEN 11 87 7.9 0
CLE 11 50 4.5 0
KC 11 27 2.5 0

As you can see, the Raiders blow away the field, with over five running plays per game from some form of I-formation. As noted in the intro, McDaniels has loved his two-back attack for a few years. The 2020 Patriots ran from the I-formation 111 times and offset-I 76 times; the 2021 Patriots, from the I-formation 111 times again and the offset-I 50 times. Matt Patricia and Joe Judge clearly purged those pages from the playbook; J.J. and Silent Matt are having their moment right now, so we'll reserve judgment on that decision.

The Bucs like the offset-I, but they don't like the I-formation. It's a Fannee Doolee! The Jets and Colts are the only teams with zero runs from either formation; they probably have no I-formation concepts in their playbook which are not designed for short-yardage usage. The same can be said of the Commanders and Patriots, who each have only run once from either formation, and a few other teams who likely only bust it out on third-and-inches.

The Texans are the Team That Time Forgot with 43 I-concept runs, not because they are tacticians like McDaniels but because they do not know what year it is. Frankly, a two-back power offense makes as much sense as anything else they would try to do, especially with Dameon Pierce in the backfield. The 49ers are logical choices to run two-back concepts. The Rams appear to have used the formation mostly against the Falcons to try to hammer out a win.

It's silly to read too much into the gaudy yards-per-carry averages above, many of which are distorted by one long run. It's worth noting, however, that if weak offenses such as the Texans, Falcons, and Bears can generate splash plays from two-back sets, better teams that are struggling offensively (especially those with running backs like Jonathan Taylor) are silly to never tinker with an I-formation, even if it means using a tight end as a fullback. Frank Reich and Zac Taylor should all be looking for ways to diversify their running games. Sean McVay already has. Though if these teams have never, ever used such formations, it may now be far too late to start in 2022.

You are just DYING to see the I-formation passing numbers, aren't you? Let's start with the standard I, again with plays inside the 5-yard line removed:

I-formation Passes, 2022
Offense Dropbacks Att Comp Yards
HOU 10 8 4 45
LAR 9 8 7 89
TEN 8 8 7 142
MIN 8 8 4 23
LV 8 7 6 74

What about the Offset I?

Offset I-formation Passes, 2022
Offense Dropbacks Att Comp Yards
LV 15 11 8 102
HOU 10 9 7 92
BUF 8 7 5 79
MIN 7 7 5 79

The Vikings have run the ball 20 times from the two I-formations this season, so all of their passing from the set is justified. They love play-action rollouts from two-back sets, and sometimes they get more than 4 yards per attempt from them. You can probably figure out what the Titans are up to tactically. Again, the Raiders pace the NFL in terms of total I-concept plays, and they appear to be enjoying success, though three sacks and a scramble from the offset-I are a point of concern.

Offenses should cause as many problems as possible for opposing defenses. In an NFL where teams have stopped investing in linebackers and old-fashioned thumper Mike/Sam-types are considered (with some merit) liabilities, putting Alec Ingold or Zander Horvath on the field and running Iso, or a play-action seamer that looks like Iso, can be a real problem. A thudding running game can also hide the weaknesses of a quarterback like Davis Mills. Alas, I-formations probably won't come back in style unless the Raiders start winning.

One final thought: regular usage of the I-formation could make the formation more effective at the goal line. Check C.J. Ham and Johnny Mundt on this Dalvin Cook touchdown from Week 5:

That's a fullback and tight end comfortable with their blocking assignments on an off-tackle run, not two guys who only play in select packages.

And yes, Walkthrough ends our programming week with praise of the Vikings. Hey, they're 4-1, so they have earned it.

Comments

38 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2022, 12:40pm

#1 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 14, 2022 - 12:56pm

James Robinson is a restricted free agent, so I'd think tendering him at the 1st or 2nd rounder level would be appropriate. It's still cheaper than even the cheaper LTDs discussed above and if someone blows him away with a contract offer, well, you've already profited by turning a UDFA into a prime asset.

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#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 14, 2022 - 1:10pm

They defintely deserve 7.25 an hour

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#14 by jheidelberg // Oct 14, 2022 - 9:32pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I've been bashed many a time for criticizing running backs.  You're comment is a winner, I did not know that the federal minimum wage was $7.25 an hour so you taught me something as you can not hire anyone here in Maryland for under $13.00 an hour.

But clearly, you have passed me in the running backs bashing competition.  I know how unexcited you are that Aaron Jones was not replaced by an NFL minimum wage RB.

I credit GB and DAL for being able to win with their bad RB contracts.  But maybe they would each win more if the money were placed elsewhere.

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#15 by kramerthefirst // Oct 15, 2022 - 3:25am

In reply to by jheidelberg

...is better than the Kevin King contract.

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#24 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 15, 2022 - 9:54pm

Well at least next year. 

If only we gave Linsley, Jones contract. But alas this was their vision. 

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#3 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 14, 2022 - 1:21pm

I'm a little surprised we haven't seen more 20-personnel I formation plays, where you're still trotting out 3 WR sets, but lining up under center with 2 backs.

You have to really trust whoever you have playing FB to win their iso block, but it would seem to be a great way to both have and eat one's cake....and more likely to get the opposing defense out of base and into nickel in a way that can be taken advantage of (or the other way around, if a slot receiver suddenly ends up with a LB in coverage).

I expected to see more of it out of Vegas when Waller got hurt.

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#6 by Vincent Verhei // Oct 14, 2022 - 2:53pm

Mike Holmgren's Seahawks used 3WR I-formations a lot. It was useful for interior runs and short passes, especially with play-action, but it left both tackles on islands and gave outside blitzers a short path to the quarterback, and so it was risky for him to sit in the pocket and wait for receivers to get open downfield -- and I say that about a team that had Walter Jones at left tackle.

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#7 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 14, 2022 - 3:25pm

...but "interior runs and short passes" isn't really a pejorative; a lot of teams are emphasizing exactly that on early downs. Also, defenses are far more specialized now, tendencies have changed, and slot receivers are far less of an afterthought

I'd have to imagine in a modern context, seeing 20 personnel in the huddle is going to make most coordinators think about some sort of split-backfield gun formation, prompting them to trot out a nickel, which is what an offense would love to see against an Iso run. 

If they wise up and start putting a base defense out there, most slot receivers are going to be a mismatch against most base LBs.

To both our points, it depends on how a team feels about whoever they slot at FB, how much they trust their tackles, and also who they have at TE. For example, the Chiefs and their 8 million solid TEs have little reason to screw with it. 

A team like SF could be interesting. On the one hand, taking Kittle off the field too much doesn't make much sense (you could split him into the slot, but he's then out of position to block or chip, and you lose the amibuity in the huddle). On the other, I like Juice on a chip-and-release a lot.

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#4 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 14, 2022 - 1:21pm

I'm a little surprised we haven't seen more 20-personnel I formation plays, where you're still trotting out 3 WR sets, but lining up under center with 2 backs.

You have to really trust whoever you have playing FB to win their iso block, but it would seem to be a great way to both have and eat one's cake....and more likely to get the opposing defense out of base and into nickel in a way that can be taken advantage of (or the other way around, if a slot receiver suddenly ends up with a LB in coverage).

I expected to see more of it out of Vegas when Waller got hurt.

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#5 by Paul R // Oct 14, 2022 - 2:08pm

The alignment, an NFL offensive staple in the 1980s and 1990s, became obsolete before it's time

Mike, Mike, Mike...for shame. And you a schoolteacher.

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#11 by Tutenkharnage // Oct 14, 2022 - 5:47pm

I chalked it up to dictation errors or something similar. 

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#17 by Theo // Oct 15, 2022 - 9:12am

"[it] became obsolete before its time..."

Is that how you phrase that? Ive never seen that. 

 

 

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#19 by Noahrk // Oct 15, 2022 - 9:41am

Yeah, before its time is a phrase that means prematurely. I think it's mostly used to talk about people dying prematurely, but you know how stylish Mike is.

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#22 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 15, 2022 - 7:18pm

I've usually seen "before its time" meaning an idea that came about too early, before it was ready to be accepted.

Like, Band X releases a concept album that flops. Ten years later, the musical stylings are common everywhere, and people rediscover that album, saying it was "before its time." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Band_Called_Death

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#31 by RickD // Oct 17, 2022 - 10:18am

Was thinking the other day that an identifier for Gen X is that we think of Orson Welles as the old, heavy guy who sold Gallo wine on TV in the last stages of his career.  "They sell no wine before its time" he said to the camera while drunk off his ass.  Younger generations don't remember these ads and older folks remember Welles before he fell apart completely.  

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#23 by Theo // Oct 15, 2022 - 9:13pm

Thanks. It looks out of place for a football formation. If it's obsolete, it's time. 

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#28 by Eddo // Oct 17, 2022 - 3:32am

It appears Mike is trying to say it's not really obsolete, given it can be effective, but teams had just stopped using it.  So it became obsolete before it needed to (due to lack of effectiveness), hence "before its time".

As I write this, I wonder - as a non-native English speaker (I believe, based on previous comments you've made), is it the possessive "its" that's confusing?  That is, we're saying the "time" belongs to "it" (the formation), not that "it is time".

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#8 by KnotMe // Oct 14, 2022 - 4:40pm

If the Eagles take the #1 seed and win like 14+ games. 

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#9 by BroncosGuyAgain // Oct 14, 2022 - 5:12pm

blah blah blah short effective careers blah blah blah fungible blah blah blah decline phase blah blah blah.

Your lede -- well, about three paragraphs of lede -- acknowledges the inevitable conclusion, but you managed to get a pretty long, well thought out column out of it.  It stinks, because I love running backs and want to root for them for 12+ year careers.  But, reality.

 

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#10 by BroncosGuyAgain // Oct 14, 2022 - 5:17pm

Roseman is also an early extender.   I had that problem in junior high.  I tried to think about baseball and hoped the cute girl to my left didn't notice.

Also, I am neither mature, nor particularly bright.

 

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#12 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 14, 2022 - 5:47pm

I had the exact same thought when I read it.

So you're exactly as mature as I am. Congratulations?

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#13 by jimbohead // Oct 14, 2022 - 5:57pm

Only part of the problem with paying running backs is longevity. Another is the auction winner's curse, amplified because there are several participants in the auction from the boomer school. The fact that your favorite team got a big-name FA RB means they outbid the boomers.

The analysis gets complicated when you talk about extensions, but a player's willingness to sign an extension is impacted by the existence of several owners to pay completely out of step with value.

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#16 by Shylo // Oct 15, 2022 - 5:03am

The Bucs are like the original Tecmo Super Bowl, which has offset I plays but no regular I plays. Also, I feel like Tanier just told us how old one or more of his children are with the ZOOM reference.

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#18 by Theo // Oct 15, 2022 - 9:28am

You are wrong, Mike. 

HBs should be drafted first overall and then be used "until the wheels fall off".

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#20 by Pat // Oct 15, 2022 - 10:34am

I basically hate the "running backs aren't worth anything!" debate because the RB market is already sooo far down compared to where it was. I mean, seriously, a 5-year $60M contract would be friggin' nothing next year. It's under 5% flat cap. It's like, under a nickel corner or 3rd receiver.

The only reason I don't think Philly will extend Sanders is because they're so tight on the cap next year. They just can't do it. Hurts's extension seems the obvious one to blame but it's actually not the biggest concern! Next year, the following guys hit free agency:

  • Defense: Hargrave, CJGJ, Bradberry, Epps, White, Edwards
  • Offense: Seumalo, Sanders

Plus of course other backups like Opeta, Dillard, Scott (plus they lose Cox and Kelce to retirement). That's literally 7/11 of the guys with the top snap counts on defense they need to resign or replace. That's bigger than Hurts's extension.

I've said often that this was an "all in" year for Philly - it's their last shot to win with Kelce, Cox, Graham, Johnson, and Slay. They'll have to make hard decisions next year and it'll almost certainly be a step back.

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#21 by OmahaChiefs13 // Oct 15, 2022 - 3:18pm

I basically hate the "running backs aren't worth anything!" debate because the RB market is already sooo far down compared to where it was. I mean, seriously, a 5-year $60M contract would be friggin' nothing next year. It's under 5% flat cap. It's like, under a nickel corner or 3rd receiver.

Ok, but...why?

The offers and contracts are like that because the market (that is, the 32 front office/coaching staff combinations) have decided, rightly or wrongly, that a RB is more replaceable and fungible than a nickel corner or 3rd receiver.

And based on the modern game and how offenses and defenses both operate, that's at least arguable. 3rd/slot receivers and nickel DBs are starting positions...even broadcasts have started announcing them that way when they do the lineups, and broadcasters are always at least a decade behind the times. And honestly, they're starting positions largely as part of the same trend that's devalued backs.

So why is that point of comparison part of the argument when talking about how much you hate the way RBs have been devalued?

Is it an effort/cost mismatch in your mind, where it feels unfair for RBs to work as hard as they do and sustain a higher injury risk for less money? Is it part of a change the way the game plays that you personally just don't like?

Not even challenging you or saying you're wrong...it's an opinion either way. But without any other explanation, you're kind of saying "I hate this blue thing because it's blue". Ok, cool...some folks don't like blue. But...why?

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#26 by Spanosian Magn… // Oct 16, 2022 - 3:52am

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

I don't mean to speak for Pat, but I think he and I share the same frustration, which is with the debate (I think you might have missed that word in the portion you quoted) over whether to pay top RB contracts: it's just small potatoes.

Your statement,

the market . . . have decided, rightly or wrongly, that a RB is more replaceable and fungible than a nickel corner or 3rd receiver.

is exactly the point. RB is one of the lowest-paid starting positions on offense now. The market has corrected, past tense. But it's still a sort of dogma in football analytics that "RBs are overpaid!!1", like it's still 2004. Like, not to single anyone out, but a certain subset of Packers fans talk about the Aaron Jones contract like it's this huge catastrophe - his cap number is less than Adrian Amos's or Dean Lowry's! It's not much more than that for the geriatric kicker or fossilized backup tight end! And he's awesome - #2 in DVOA! If they lose, that contract is far, far down the list of reasons why.

And if I may add my own editorial, "rightly or wrongly" actually does have something close to a correct answer in sports - and I suspect the market may have over-corrected on RB value. In a 4-down-offense world, the bar for "success" on a given play is lowered, so short runs are more valuable and clock-killing is a more viable strategy. I believe some teams are a bit ahead of the curve on this - including the McVay tree, hence the "Jones-Mixon contract" tier. History will decide, of course. But, as such, I predict the Chargers will sign a RB - probably one of the Barkely/Jacobs/Sanders troika discussed here - for a contract roughly on that level (with adjustments for cap, age, etc.).

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#27 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 16, 2022 - 8:24am

Jones is a good RB but comparing his current cap hit is... not correct. Crosby, Lowry and Amos are in the last year of their contract. Jones is 2/4 & is only lower because it explodes next year. And they assuredly have to touch it. And they likely could be forced to cut him altogether...and leave >$9m dead (and no comp pick).

And Crosby is Crosby though, I dont pay ST but the team has a hard time letting go because... they don't trust other winter kickers or something.  

Ironically McVay won with rookie contract RBs and an expensive QB room (don't forget Goofs dead cap) and not the expensive Gurley and cheap Goof. 

And the Chargers signing a RB (who knows if Staley lasts that long) is funny because Ekeler was a UDFA...currently ON his 2nd contract. I really don't think you want to copy either of us tbh. I simply have no enthusiasm paying them multi year 2nd contracts. I'll gladly search in the garbage bin. Kinda how GB did IMMEDIATELY after Lacy got his (ask Seahawks fans how that went too).

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#32 by Pat // Oct 17, 2022 - 12:33pm

Crosby, Lowry and Amos are in the last year of their contract.

Yeah, but their cap hits are fake because they've got void years tacked on. All 3 of those guys combined will dump $11M in dead cap next year as structured (although they'd return comp picks, so that is a real difference). The way Jones's contract is arranged it's not much different.

Jones is 2/4 & is only lower because it explodes next year.

That's only because they're broke and borrowed from it, though. It's 4 year, $48M overall, or 5% flat cap. That's third-receiver money. If you can't find 5% for a guy who's on the field for over 50% of your snaps, you're paying too much to someone else. If, in the end, they cut him next year, they will have paid:

  • '21: 4.46M cap
  • '22: 5.9M cap
  • '23: 9.52M cap

That's $19.88M for 2 years, or... hey, 5% cap again. 

It's the same problem that Philly has: it's not that Jones isn't worth the contract (he is), they just can't afford it because they're paying way too much somewhere else. Green Bay obviously has Rodgers's contract, whereas Philly has, well, their entire defense.

Points: 0

#33 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 17, 2022 - 1:31pm

Takes 3 to out weigh 1 of the least valuable offensive position in dead money and 3 less potential comp picks. 

Hilarious after yesterdays loss too. It's clearly not worth it with where they're headed and how easily they're found in the draft. Others are paid more...because they're worth it.

If only we took the comp pick, maybe we wouldn't be destined for divisional exits. 

Points: 0

#34 by Pat // Oct 17, 2022 - 2:13pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

No, just two, and it's mostly Amos because Lowry's isn't fully borrowed. It's 11M in total between those 3. In total the Packers are borrowing $15.25M from next year at this point.

Do I think the Packers should've signed Aaron Jones? Of course not, because they can't afford it and because Dillon's already on the roster and a quarterback like Rodgers doesn't need multiple RB receiving options. Would some other team easily be able to handle Jones at 5% cap and would he add value at that price point? Yes.

Running backs aren't that easily found. They are if you just use them for rushing, but that's not what teams use them for. Yes, of course they're a luxury, but there aren't enough high end skill positions for everyone to get one anyway.

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#35 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 18, 2022 - 8:55am

lol

IDC. Not worth it. Just like all the other 2nd contract RBs that blow up in their faces. We found Jones and Jamaal on day 3 right after Lacy left and we were forced to play a WR there while he was hurt. It doesn't matter whether they could afford it or not, had another option, or who was at QB. Just saw Cam Akers win a SB. IDC about them. Stop trying to make them happen

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#36 by Pat // Oct 18, 2022 - 11:18am

IDC. Not worth it. Just like all the other 2nd contract RBs that blow up in their faces.

The contract that's blowing up in the Packers' faces right now is not Aaron Jones.

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#29 by Eddo // Oct 17, 2022 - 3:35am

In reply to by OmahaChiefs13

I think that Pat is saying that it's pointless arguing about the worth of RBs being low because the reality of the market is that it has happened.  Not that he disagrees with how RBs are valued by front offices.

Points: 0

#30 by Pat // Oct 17, 2022 - 7:48am

Yup. It just doesn't matter. Even Zeke's contract with the Cowboys isn't that big a deal. It's maybe a $3-4M overpay. You get tons of those every year. You might be able to justify that just for the pass blocking.

If teams start mimicking Quenton Nelson's contract, overpaying guards is a much bigger deal.

Points: 0

#25 by liquidmuse3 // Oct 16, 2022 - 12:10am

‚Äú‚Ķobsolete before *its time.‚ÄĚ C‚Äômon Tanier, you were a teacher! ūüėČ

Points: 0

#37 by cn768623 // Oct 19, 2022 - 12:06pm

The only thing Jalen Hurts is going to get next year is a kick in the butt out of the door; he's the worst starting QB in the NFL by far - a lower-tier back-up.  If you don't see that, then you shouldn't try to make a living evaluating players.  If you don't believe my evaluation of him, Doug Pederson quit rather than work with him and the Eagles spent the past two offseasons trying to replace Hurts.

Points: 0

#38 by Pat // Oct 19, 2022 - 12:40pm

Did you misspell "Carson Wentz"?

Pederson didn't want to work with Wentz anymore. He got along great with Hurts. Hurts and Doug have both always talked glowingly about each other, whereas with Wentz, Pederson's been more like "well, it wasn't that bad" and he specifically went out of his way to mend fences with Carson in Indy.

Points: 0

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