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State of the RB position in the NFL

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by adambr2, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. adambr2

    adambr2 Cheesehead

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    I don't know if I've ever seen such a poor market for RB's in free agency, but it's clear the position and value of the position is definitely changing.

    When guys like Moreno, McFadden, MJD, and others are struggling to find jobs and taking disappointing money when they do, it's become clear that if you're not a Tier 1 guy like Peterson or McCoy or Charles, you're a dime a dozen.

    You've got to wonder what it means for a guy like Lacy. I know when a guy comes off a fantastic season like he did, the natural instinct is to give that guy a nice extension now. But the reality is that we've already got him locked him for 4 years on the cheap.

    And the sad reality of it is, after that 4 years, not only will he have a lot of tread on the tires for an NFL running back, but the RB market may be even more depressed than it is right now.
     
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  2. Ace

    Ace Cheesehead

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    I'm glad someone brought this up because I was thinking the same thing, and I was thinking about it because of the discussion of potential cap issues for the Packers in the future.

    It really is crazy to see how the RB market has become almost non-existent. I couldn't believe what Miami got Moreno for, the guy had almost 1600 total yards last year and 13 TDs and got a 1 yr $3M deal. He is now the best RB they have and got him for next to nothing. Meanwhile guys like Mike Wallace sign for crazy amounts of money that they will never ever live up to.
     
  3. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Packers can't renegotiate his contract until after the 2015 season, that's part of the rookie wage scale in the current CBA.
     
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  4. ivo610

    ivo610 Cheesehead

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    The RBs that were available were coming off of bad seasons and have an injury history.
     
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  5. adambr2

    adambr2 Cheesehead

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    I was aware of that, but you're right, I should have been clearer rather than just saying we have him locked in cheap for 4 years.

    Not only is he locked in cheap but like you said neither side could even approach a new deal for 2 more years even if we wanted to.
     
  6. mradtke66

    mradtke66 Cheesehead

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    The new CBA hurts running backs. Any team with any sense and a good back will do the following:

    1) Draft a rookie

    2) Sign to the maximum contract length

    3) On contract expiry, franchise

    4) Franchise again

    5) Don't resign or resign for the minimum, as the back now approximately 29 years old and on the down slope of his career.

    Of course, this assumes the team has no other players they want to resign. I'm interested to see how the math plays out if I'm accurate. In theory, the end game is that "highest paid backs" are high-picked rookies.
     
  7. Shawnsta3

    Shawnsta3 Cheesehead

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    This is a really interesting point.

    On one hand you've got Miguel Cabrera in the MLB getting nearly $300 million guaranteed on a 10 year contract when he's already over 30. These signings rarely work out (see Pujols, Rodriguez), yet teams are giving them out anyway. Reportedly fellow Exec's were mad at the Detroit Tigers when they heard the length and dollar amount of the contract. These guys are definitely getting overpaid; into and past their prime.

    On the other hand you've got the current NFL running back. They can excel as a starter (Moreno 1,000 yards and 10 TD's), or key backup (Starks 5.5 yards per carry), be in the relative prime of their careers, and still get paid a COMBINED $6 million over three years. Severely underpaid.

    The NFL is raking in the money by the bucket-full. So where is the money going to if it's not the RB's? Their fellow backfield partner the QB. At some point though, I'd like the Players Union to step up and make this an arguing point in the next CBA. They should say "If RB's come in on your new rookie contracts and get paid minimally, then get to the open market and get paid minimally on their second contracts (likely their last meaningful one.) Yet produce meaningfully the whole time, where are their paychecks?"
     
  8. Ace

    Ace Cheesehead

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    $45,000+ per plate appearance over the next 10 years is too much?? Sounds about right to me *sarcasm font*
     
  9. Poppa San

    Poppa San SB I trophy First of four Staff Member Moderator

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    On the table next to the placekicker and punter. Supply and demand. Many above average RB's and more than 32 decent kickers. Very few really good QB's.
     
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  10. HardRightEdge

    HardRightEdge Cheesehead

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    The Tigers were in pennant races and won their division in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2012 and 2013, when Cabrera was in Triple Crown contention, they drew on average over 400,000 additional fans per year over 2011. While it is difficult to separate out the Cabrera buzz from the improving Detroit economy or other factors, there should be no question he put a meaningful number of additional butts in seats, not to mention some bump in local TV ratings, with nearly all of that incremental revenue going straight to the bottom line.

    I make this point less as an argument in favor of Cabrera's contract than to highlight a key difference between MLB and the NFL.

    Most NFL teams sell out regardless of who's on the field and a large source of NFL team revenue comes from pooled TV money whereas MLB TV money is still substantially local despite the national broadcast deals. At the extreme, local rights in KC are about $20 mil per year; Dodgers + Angels runs about $500 mil per year.

    In the NFL, the value of $ spent on a player can be measured strictly against the players' contribution to winning. Cabrera's value to the Tigers goes beyond what WAR might tell you. This might be particularly in evidence if he remains an elite hitter for, say, 5 years of the 10 year deal and the Tigers fall out of contention for some or all of those years while Cabrera vies for one individual title or another. In particular, he might give fans a reason to watch the local TV broadcasts come August and September when the team is not winning.

    Do the math...conservatively figure $50 per incremental butt-in-seat (ticket, parking, concessions, merchandise) + the incremental bump in local TV ratings.

    I would question more seriously a contract like Verlander's $26 mil per year or Kershaw's $31 mil per year. Starting pitchers make at most 35 appearances and could blow out an elbow or shoulder at any time.

    As for running backs in general, they are highly susceptible to injury and have a short shelf life. Moreno missed 1/2 seasons in 2 of his 5 years. We need not recount Starks' record of unavailability. Year-in-year-out durability into second contracts is uncommon; through second contracts it's downright rare.

    With Lacy, we can take some encouragement in that he came to us with a lot of tread on the tires...he ran the ball only 355 times in college. One would hope we'll never again see McCarthy push him to over 30 touches in garbage time. As for his second contract, that's 3 years and over 1,000 touches (if we're lucky) down the road...extending him before well into his contract year would be ill-advised.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014
  11. ThxJackVainisi

    ThxJackVainisi Lifelong Packers Fanatic

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    Since RBs are a small percentage of the NFLPA I don’t see that happening. And other positions may have similar claims although they aren’t as visible as RBs. Something that may be – and IMO should be - modified is the Permance-Based Pay benefit program. $3.46M is allocated to each NFL team and it is used to compensate players whose playing time was higher than their salaries would have indicated. Bears OT Jordan Mills topped the list at an additional $318K. Here’s a link to a pdf of all the payouts for 2013 (not actually paid until 2016) The Packers are listed on pages 23-24.
    http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/blogs/2013-nfl-performance-based-payouts.pdf

    Take a look at the list and you’ll see how it could be changed. For example, why was Aaron Rodgers and Derek Sherrod (for two entirely different reasons) allocated anything? I think Rodgers just signed a decent sized contract and I think Sherrod was overpaid with just his regular salary. The amounts paid were trivial (Rodgers about $5K and Sherrod about $2K) but why pay ‘em anything? I believe it’s just based on PT and if that’s true, I’d suggest adding a performance element so when Lacy makes the pro bowl, wins rookie of the year, etc. he receives more than the $122K he was actually allocated. Bakhtiari got about $256K, Barclay about $236K, Boykin $173K, and Hyde $169K. Those amounts are fine, I just think more should be allocated to fewer players.
     
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  12. Darth Garfunkel

    Darth Garfunkel Cheesehead

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    Totally agree. We have other quality backs on the roster that we can spread the workload around a bit. I kind of thought they rode Lacy a little too hard last year.
     
  13. weeds

    weeds Cheesehead

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    Someone will win the Super Bowl with a power running game in the not-too-distant future and the pendulumwill swing the other way.
     
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  14. adambr2

    adambr2 Cheesehead

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    The thing is, an elite franchise quarterback, by himself, can take an otherwise mediocre roster and make it into a playoff team. An elite franchise running back just can't do that. Not on a yearly basis, anyway.
     
  15. VolvoD

    VolvoD Cheesehead

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    fixed that for ya
     
  16. paulska

    paulska Cheesehead

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    Adrian Peterson almost singlehandedly got the Vikes to the playoffs a couple seasons ago. Had they had a QB in the Dilfer or Johnson mode (after all the recent bluster about whether Eli is better than they), they may well have upset us and had a shot to go deep in the playoffs.

    The problem is that RBs with that kind of power/speed/will are exceptionally rare, and more typically the elite RBs who matter come playoff time are Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson types who can run, catch, block , screen etc.

    I think those who talked about a power run game by committee likely have it right- I don't think you can ride one thumper thru mass carries and hope to sustain that kind of offense relying on one guy. That said, if you have a stable, you could conceivably force teams who are increasingly built to stop the pass to put heavier, more stout players on the field to stop an earnest and effective running game and take your shots selectively.

    I think this kind of shift won't be something you see league wide though- you would need a team committed to the concept and willing to develop it over time. It's not a switch you can just make. That said, I'm curious as to why more teams, given that winning seems to rely on elite QB play with so few elite QBs available to deliver it, aren't using the money they're not paying an elite QB to 3-4 backs to the tune of 15 million a year, as a way to capitalize on a talent pool that appears to be underutilized in the current NFL landscape. From a cap management perspective, it would also allow you to better pay a greater number of offensive playmakers than a team with someone like an ARod or Brady...
     
  17. AmishMafia

    AmishMafia Cheesehead

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    Some say Barry Sanders was the GOAT. Yet the Lions were on a marginal team his entire career.

    The shine has worn off of the position. When I was a wee lad, the best athletes wanted to be RBs. Now, there is glory in CB (thanks in large part to Deion Sanders) and other positions. Now the best athletes want to be WRs or CBs. Times they have a changed.
     
  18. adambr2

    adambr2 Cheesehead

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    There's always going to be an exception, and that's why I had disclaimed that statement with "every year". No doubt AP carried the Vikings in 2012, as he did in 2008, but other than that, he's been stuck on a team that just can't take that next step without a serviceable QB. They had a stop-gap solution with Favre in 2009, but they had to sleep in the bed that they made when the QB who completed their team recklessly threw the NFC Championship away. So they fell short.

    I guess what I'm saying is, if you have an elite RB, there are no guarantees. You can make it, sure, but it's much more difficult. Elite QB, you're almost a playoff team already, barring some bad circumstance (Saints with bountygate in 2012), and can only go up from there.

    Teams led by the likes of Brady, P. Manning, and Rodgers are playoff contenders, every year -- unless things go horribly wrong. Which they almost did for us last year with our elite QB missing half the season, but he came back just in time to save it.
     
  19. paulska

    paulska Cheesehead

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    No question that it's easier to keep an elite QB healthier than an elite RB. It's also easier to stop one elite RB when you've got mediocre to poor QB talent around that can't keep the pass defenders from loading the box.

    I was more thinking along the lines of why a team can't move along the lines of "hey, we don't have an elite QB, there are none available. However, there are some solid guys out there we can pay 1/3 the salary. With the savings, we can pay three RBs that aren't the megastar/multitool types that are making the big RB money to pound the rock and give us different looks on nearly every down and create opportunities our solid guy can capitalize on. We can also afford to pay two more defensive stars market rate to mitigate the damage an elite QB can cause (see: Seahawks destroy Manning)." With multiple talents at RB, you don't need to worry if AP goes down. You have enough guys with enough reps to wear teams down and keep their base D on the field to create passing game mismatches.

    The above arrangement doesn't work if you only have one really good RB that goes down, OR if your really good RB ends up eating salary you need transitionally to pay an emerging or established franchise QB...

    If I were an NFL GM in a spot like Cleveland or Jacksonville, I'd think about reestablishing some winning ways this way, because your chances of getting a Drew Brees in FA anymore are slim to none... In either of those cases, they have sucked for so long that the continuous hope to hit the jackpot on a megastar QB is a recipe for another decade of losing...
     
  20. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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  21. HyponGrey

    HyponGrey Caseus Locutus Est

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    More and more Highschool RB's are switching to DB when they go to college. Highly touted recruits.
     
  22. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Ben Tate told MMQB´s Robert Klemko that if he could do it all over again he would be a safety.
     

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