A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Deal or No Deal: A High School Athlete’s Perspective

From Le’Veon Bell to Ezekiel Elliot to Melvin Gordon more and more NFL running backs are holding out of their contracts in this generation.

Le’Veon Bell, current New York Jets running back, was the first to hold out in the 2018-2019 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bell was in a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2018 offseason after not getting the contract extension he wanted a year prior, and being franchise tagged instead. They did the same in the 2018-19 season, but he chose to sit out this time.

Why would such an elite level running back do such thing? Maybe because he feels as though he provides a lot to the team. Perhaps he feels he’s the best running back in the league, or simply he just wants more money.

History shows that running backs in the NFL don’t last that long due to so much wear and tear on their body from going against bigger players. The average career length for running backs in the NFL is around three years. Therefore, teams are very hesitant on paying running backs.

The average pay for running backs in the 2019 NFL season is $1,500,000 or less. Compared to the average amount that NFL quarterbacks make ($4,000,000) per year running backs are obviously underpaid and underappreciated. A above average quarterback will more than likely get a $100,000,000 contract before any elite level running back does based on durability and consistency.

These are all factors that play into why running backs like Ezekiel Elliot, Le’Veon Bell, and Melvin Gordon holdout on their contracts. Their method usually works in their favor as Bell just signed a 4-year $52,500,000 deal with a $8,000,000 signing bonus with the New York Jets and Ezekiel Elliot just signed a 6-year $90,000,000 deal with a $7,500,000 signing bonus and $28,052,137 guaranteed from his new contact.

The NFL is always evolving and getting better, running backs getting paid adequately is just another example of it doing so.