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Running Back contracts have been stuck in amber for the past decade

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Modern football common strategy and analytics have buried the hatchet in the play-calling tendencies which emphasized running on first downs and second downs. The revelation that a subpar passing attack is superior to a top-flight rushing offense hasn’t helped. The Steelers and Titans were the only playoff teams last season who were predominantly built on the run.

As defenses design schemes to defend the pass, a running back renaissance could re-emerge, spearheaded by dual-threat backs in the mold of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey, but until then, the prospects are dim. Kamara’s five-year, $75 million deal has an average annual value of $15 million while Derrick Henry, the NFL’s best running back, is playing on an average salary of $12.25 million. The most highly compensated running backs are essentially hybrids, which shows that even among elite running backs, the pass is key. The moral of the story is that it’s better to be a gadget receiver than a hybrid running back.

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