Over the last several years, the running back position has continued to evolve. Players are more versatile and can do numerous things for an offense, making them a valuable component of any system. However, what hasn't evolved with it is the monetary value for the majority at the position.
Despite the production, running backs have consistently had problems when it comes time to negotiate a new deal. As teams look to pay less for the position and spend the money elsewhere, top producers such as Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook have held out of team activities in hopes of new deals. Sometimes their desires are met, other times franchise tags or other loopholes come into play.
The whole situation is something that frustrates Redskins running back Adrian Peterson. The veteran, who helped start the running back revolution with his speed, strength and durability, sees the undervaluing of the position as a slap in the face to some of the most talented players in the game.
"It's disrespectful to be honest with you. It really is," Peterson said to TMZ Sports.
The 14-year pro was able to earn a large payday when his time came with the Minnesota Vikings, signing a seven-year, $96 million contract in 2011. Since then he's continued to produce at a high level, especially over the past two seasons with the Redskins.
Despite the knock that running backs decline after the age of 30, Peterson has rushed for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons with Washington while missing just one game. He was 33-years-old when he joined the team in 2018.
Peterson is hoping that his continued success following his first decade of football will show owners and front office members that a running back can have value over a long period of time, making it worthwhile to sign players to a long-term contract for the money they deserve.
"I think the change is going to come," Peterson said. "Me and Frank Gore continue to show guys, 'Hey, we are valuable. We can have 10, 14-year careers as well, so value us as well like you would value a quarterback, you know?'"
Gore is entering his 15th season in the NFL after rushing for nearly 600 yards and appearing in all 16 games at the age of 36 in 2019.
Additionally, Peterson has confidence that the market for running backs will continue to change as the players at the position continue to do more for an offense. Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara are the latest examples of do-it-all backs that can line up anywhere on the field and produce outside the run game. Derrick Henry essentially put the Titans on his back and helped the team reach the AFC Championship Game last season.
As more and more talent like that enters the league, Peterson remains hopeful that the next generation of running backs won't be undervalued when contract negotiations come into play.
"These young core of backs are really changing the game for the better," Peterson said. "I feel like you're going to continue to get guys like that, that's going to help raise the value of the running back position."
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