Down Trending: Free Agent Running Backs

January 1, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert (35) tries to run past Oakland Raiders linebacker Aaron Curry (51) in the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 38-26. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

If Mike Tolbert‘s contract with the Carolina Panthers tells us one thing, it is that the market for free agent running backs is about as soft as Eli Manning in a bar fight (I can only assume). According to a report by Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com Tolbert received a four year deal worth approximately $10 million with incentives, including a $2 million signing bonus and $700,000 salary for 2012.  Tolbert has 19 TD’s in the last two seasons, which puts him in a category with guys like Marshawn Lynch (18 TD’s), Michael Turner (23 TD’s), and believe it or not CJ2K (15 TD’s).  I know, I know, Tolbert is not a primary back with the rushing yards to compare with these other guys right?  Wrong, Tolbert is a TD machine and does exactly what he  is supposed to do;  Crash head first into the end zone from five yards out or catch the dump off from the QB and uses a low center of gravity to bowl over frustrated and bruised defenders.  Then why is this a guy making $2 million a year?  Its simple, the NFL is no longer a RB dominated league and its becoming more and more obvious.  Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were locked up to the tune of $11-$16 million a year not so long ago, Mark Sanchezis right in there at about 10 million, and we all know what Peyton just got from Denver ($90 million for 5 years).

Dec 5, 2011; Jacksonville, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Matthews (24) celebrates with tight end Randy McMichael (81) after scoring on a 31-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter at EverBank Field. The Chargers defeated the Jaguars 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Now, you have an upper echelon of running backs who are still recieving big contracts and who will get big money deals in the future but they are becoming a smaller group every year.  I have the distinct feeling that Ryan Matthews will have to continue to improve and assure the coaches he can stay healthy an entire season by actually doing it.  Then and only then will he be getting anything close to the tune of $6+ million per year.

So the QB’s are getting paid, the running backs on  the other hand are just trying to land a decent gig it would appear.  Jackie Battle left the Chargers facility without a deal today per the San Diego Union Tribune, and guys like Michael Bush, Cadillac Williams, Brandon Jacobs and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are still flying around the country trying to get a job.  Now, there’s no doubt these guys will be employed sooner or later but at what price tag?  You can bet your last bag of Gummy Bears that it won’t be anywhere near the $20 million dollar deal DeAngelo Williams scored from the Panthers last year, and go head and bet those sweet little treats again that they will be paid like a bunch of place kickers. Doesn’t really seem fair considering that running back is known for it’s 30 year old production slips and brutal hits from ravenous linebackers does it?

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Topics: Benjarvus Green-ellis, Deangelo Williams, Eli Manning, Jackie Battle, Michael Bush, Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews

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  • LeonardoVelazquez

    The running backs should get paid more, because their careers are so much shorter than quarterbacks’, but I think Tolbert got a pretty good deal in comparison to other running backs.  He’s not as good as any of the top ten in order to make that much money.  He has 19 touchdowns but he was a vulture, Mathews did the work (when he was healthy) and then they put in Tolbert in the redzone.  Tolbert is a great third down option (good pass protection, good catcher) but shouldn’t be put at the same level as Lynch, Turner or CJ2K.  Also, he was as fumble prone AND injury prone.  

  • Fonz

    jhgjhb

  • Fonz

    I heard that Tolbert took less money ($1 million less) than his offer from the Chargers to go to back home to Carolina.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ epadaon

      @Fonz He did take less money

  • Trong Lam

    Bolt beat, your page is trip’n again. I can’t read any of your post.

  • Paul Biggs

    If you use twitter the links work there

  • http://boltbeat.com/ epadaon

    I hope we get Michael Bush on our roster somehow

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