It's happening. NFL running backs have had enough. Some of the most notable backs in the league are linking arms and sharing their distaste for running back salaries in the National Football League. Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Najee Harris, is joining them.
It all started with a trio of running backs hoping to avoid playing on the franchise tag. Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard were each awaiting long-term deals. Unfortunately for them, their agents and the team were not able to come to terms on a new deal prior to the deadline. Now all three running backs will be forced to play the 2023 season on the tag.
This news has infuriated many notable running backs around the league, as a divide between the players and the organization grows wider. Derrick Henry, Najee Harris, and a handful of other prominent running backs have spoken out so far -- asking for justice to be done and running backs to be paid fairly.
Recently, a graphic from Spotrac started circulating on Twitter. It was eventually shared by Dez Bryant and other former NFL players who asked for an explanation as to why kickers are being paid more than running backs.
At first, these numbers seem a bit shocking. Running backs take a massive toll on their bodies each year. Though the job of a kicker is important, their role is far less physically strenuous.
Regardless of how misleading these numbers were, Najee took the bait. The Steelers running back took to Twitter to quote tweet this graphic, saying, "If this do not open your eyes you trippin."
Harris went on a Twitter rant on the topic of running back pay and voiced his extreme displeasure with how RBs are being used and abused in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers running back also retweeted players like Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Derrick Henry who were all fuming over the mistreatment of running backs.
Najee Harris and NFL running backs need to put things in context
The graphic that is going viral shows that the average salary for a kicker is $2.26 million, while the average salary for a running back is just $1.81 million in 2023. But let's take things in context here.
Using Spotrac -- the same source that this information came from to spin a wild narrative --we can break these numbers down in a much better way. Let's take the average of the top 32 players at each position. In other words, starting running backs versus starting kickers.
When we do this, we find that the average salary of a top 32 kicker is $2.98 million, while the average salary of a top 32 running back is $5.868 million. This means that starting running backs are getting paid roughly twice as much as kickers. The graphic from Spotrac included second-string, third-string, and even fourth-string running backs.
It's actually very simple and easy to make sense of. There are roughly 32 kickers on NFL rosters during the season while there are anywhere between 100 to 125 running backs on 53-man rosters at any given time. Like every position in the league, the backups will bring the average salary down.
It's sad that these running backs aren't getting this. Yes, I understand that they would like to be paid more, but NFL owners and front offices are wising up and starting to use their salary cap space on more valuable positions. It's just the way that it goes in the NFL, and if the top running backs don't like it, tough rocks.