Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler sound of absence of RB extensions: ‘Criminal’

Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs will play this NFL season on the franchise tag. Or they don’t want to.

Those are the only two options.

After the expiration of a Monday deadline, neither is eligible to sign a long-term deal this offseason after months of failed negotiations. How they proceed is now up to them. Holding out for training camp, the start of the season or later is a possibility for both players. It’s an opportunity Le’Veon Bell maximized in 2018 under similar circumstances that marked the end of his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. None of them have signed their franchise tenders.

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, meanwhile, has decided to sign his franchise tender and is expected to play this season without an extension.

For NFL running backs, the absence of extensions for two of the best at the position further signals a stark reality in a league that continues to devalue them and increasingly refuses to make long-term investments at the position. Some of the league’s best backs noticed the news.

(RL) Derrick Henry has Saquon Barkley’s back. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

They also noted ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller, who tweeted about the perceived availability of running backs amid Monday’s news. They sounded off.

Tennessee Titans running back and two-time NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry had this to say:

“At this point, just take the RB position out of the game,” Henry wrote on Twitter. “Those who want to be great and work as hard as they can to give their all to an organization just act like it doesn’t even matter. I’m with all RBs fighting to get what they deserve .”

Fortunately for Henry, he doesn’t face the same circumstances as Jacobs and Barkley. He is approaching the final year of a four-year, $50 million extension to his rookie contract and was awarded a salary of 2 million dollars last free season. He got his big payday. But he will soon fight for someone else.

Three-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has also secured his salary as he approaches the second year of a four-year, $64 million contract. Like Henry, he stood in solidarity with his fellow runners, calling the lack of long-term deals by Monday’s deadline “criminal”.

“This is Criminal. Three of the best PLAYERS in the entire league, regardless of position,” McCaffrey wrote of Barkley, Jacobs and Pollard.

Austin Ekeler is playing on a significantly less lucrative 4-year, $24.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. He requested a trade this offseason in pursuit of a new deal, but remains with the Chargers after negotiating an incentive raise. Like Henry, he voiced his support for his fellow running backs while calling Miller’s stance on the position’s availability “garbage.”

“This is the kind of garbage that has artificially devalued one of the most important positions in the game,” Ekeler wrote. “Everybody knows it’s hard to win without a top RB and yet they act like we’re disposable widgets. I support any RB doing whatever it takes to get his bag.”

Without a new deal of his own, Indianapolis Colts running back and 2021 NFL champion Jonathan Taylor will be in a similar position to Jacobs and Barkley next season. He is approaching the final year of his four-year, $7.8 million rookie contract. He could very well face the prospect of playing the 2024 season under the franchise tag if he and the Colts don’t come to terms.

He was among the first to respond to the news Monday that Jacobs and Barkley were not getting new deals. He was succinct in his answer.

Later, he saw the same tweet from Miller, which drew responses from Henry and Ekeler. He responded in kind.

“1. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you,” Taylor wrote.

“2. If you work hard enough, you will succeed.

3. You boost the organization

It doesn’t matter, you’re a RB”

Le’Veon Bell Compares NFL to “A Bug’s Life”

Former NFL running back Le’Veon Bell, who recently admitted he shouldn’t have sat out an entire season in pursuit of a new contract, offered his perspective on the topic in a series of tweets Tuesday morning.

First he said actively steered away a young footballer from playing the running back position.

“It’s to the point now where I have to tell them to play defense, quarterback, wide out or KICKER… straight up.”

Clock then compared what happens to the running backs to the plot of Disney’s 1998 animated film, “A Bug’s Life”. He said that the running backs are the ants and that he is the main character, Flik, ​​who tried to rally the other ants against the oppressive grasshoppers (who he said would be the NFL owners).

For those who don’t remember or haven’t seen the movie, the ants are forced to give a large portion of their seasonal harvest to a gang of grasshoppers. But Flik tries to convince his fellow ants – there are far more than the grasshoppers – that they must stand together and push back the demands.

NFL running backs are in a position they’ve never been in before. Now they are showing solidarity. How Jacobs and Barkley approach the upcoming season without new deals will be of great interest to all parties involved.

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