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Top running backs plan a Zoom call for Saturday night

It started as a group text exchange on Monday. Next, disgruntled NFL running backs will meet via Zoom to discuss their depressed market.

Per multiple sources, the session is scheduled for Saturday night.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has organized the meeting and distributed the Zoom link. All of the big-name running backs have been invited.

The NFL Players Association apparently will be involved in some capacity. Frankly, however, the union has a conflict of interest on this. From the NFLPA’s perspective, every dollar that goes to a player who plays one position takes a dollar away from a player who plays a different position. (That’s why, frankly, each position should have its own bargaining unit.) Likewise, NFLPA president JC Tretter recently offered less-than-ideal advice for running backs who hope to create leverage.

The group needs leadership in the form of someone who knows the market for running backs, understands why it is depressed, has concrete ideas for improving the situation — and is committed to enhancing running back pay even if it means, for example, quarterbacks getting less.

There’s one way the union can spearhead this effort without robbing Peter to pay Paul. The best idea, first hatched by Chris Simms while we were discussing Ekeler’s situation earlier this year on PFT Live, is to create a league-wide fund that pays running backs as they go for playing time, rushing attempts, rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. This will supplement the bargain-basement rookie deals under which most running backs are working when they are doing their best work.

If the NFLPA agrees with this approach, the next challenge becomes getting the league to go along with it. And that’s where things can get tricky; the union would likely have to make a concession of some sort to get the NFL to do it. If that concession affects players who don’t play running back, why would those players want to make the deal?

Thus, there might be no good solution for this specific problem. At least the running backs are trying to come up with one. Hopefully, someone will recommend a strategy that makes their situation better, not worse.