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Veteran running back market is soft, again

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 7: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs up field against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 7, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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Running backs have a hard time getting paid in free agency. That trend apparently will continue in 2017.

As tampering runs rampant in Indianapolis, featuring teams meeting with the agents who represent impending free agents before the time for doing so officially commences on Tuesday, the chatter is that the available-as-of-Thursday running backs are getting limited interest.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the biggest name of the bunch, isn’t generating significant dollars via the wink-nod this-conversation-never-happened conversations. Unless the numbers climb, his best play may be to sit and wait for an inevitable injury to a tailback, which would allow him to skip the grind of the offseason program and possibly some, most, or all of training camp. At some point, Peterson may have to ask himself whether it’s worth continuing at all, given the money that quite possibly will (or won’t) be on the table.

Former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who is immediately available because he was cut, also hasn’t been getting significant play in Indianapolis. But it’s not just confined to the older running backs. For younger guys like Raiders running back Latavius Murray, the numbers won’t be there -- just like they haven’t been in recent years.

It’s a strange dichotomy, given that the Steelers are on the hook for more than $12 million for another year with franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell. Most others will be hard pressed to get half of that, and many will be looking at a third of it, at best.

The dynamic often becomes a difficult one to process, given that running backs who perform well generate plenty of name recognition among fans, media, and the fantasy football crowd. So whether it’s DeAngelo Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Eddie Lacy, Rashad Jennings, Justin Forsett, Danny Woodhead, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, etc., etc., etc., most of these guys won’t get paid, plenty will have to take a minimum-level deal, and several will end up finding no takers at all.

Meanwhile, new running backs will enter the NFL via every round of the draft (or not through the draft at all), and they’ll become the players over the next few years who gain yards and score touchdowns and eventually don’t get paid big money for it.