NFL1000: Ranking Every NFL Backfield
The truth of the modern NFL is this: Running backs don’t generally mean what they used to.
The main men in most offenses in the previous millennium, backs must now do more to keep their esteemed positions—for the most part. Largely gone are the days of the one-trick pony—the power back who gets 300 carries a season to extend drives or the pure sprinter who gains 2,000 yards in a campaign.
For the most part, modern running backs must be some combination of first-down smashers, second-down pass-catchers and third-down blockers—and they’ll most likely be doing so in some sort of committee.
The numbers bear this out. A recent study from FiveThirtyEight indicated the top 16 running backs in 2017 will earn less than players at any other skill position on offense or defense and that the average NFL back will make about half of what he did in 2000, relative to other positions.