Nobody actually denies that Cook dinner, Kamara and the others are helpful gamers who assist their groups win. However the faculty ranks produce dozens of burly, speedy, decided and inexpensive rushers in each draft class, whereas the pains of plunging into the tooth of N.F.L. defenses shortly put on down all however the rarest backs.
The distinction in marginal worth between a 26-year-old All-Professional with 1,000 skilled carries on his odometer and the everyday midround rookie doesn’t come near the prices: roughly $12 million per yr for the veteran, lower than $2 million for the rookie.
Moreover, the rookie is extra prone to produce optimistic outcomes. Of the 15 operating backs who rushed for over 1,000 dashing yards final season, 12 of them had been on their authentic rookie contracts and 13 of them had been 25 or youthful. Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys was final season’s just one,000-yard rusher who was taking part in on a contract extension for the group that had drafted him. Due to his $90 million eruption of generosity towards Elliott, the Cowboys’ proprietor, Jerry Jones, is presently trying to find unfastened change within the cushions of his salary-cap couch so he can afford to pay quarterback Dak Prescott.
Final weekend’s motion was stuffed with examples of the folly of overpaying operating backs. Cook dinner rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, whereas his minimum-wage backup, Alexander Mattison, rushed for an equivalent 50 yards on six carries. Malcolm Brown, Gurley’s low-cost substitute for the Rams, rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns, whereas Gurley gained 56 yards and had one landing for the Falcons.
The Jacksonville Jaguars launched Leonard Fournette reasonably than pay him Cook dinner-Kamara cash in late August; he rushed 5 occasions for five yards for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, whereas the undrafted Illinois State rookie James Robinson gained 90 yards from scrimmage in Fournette’s place in a Jaguars victory.
Common managers and coaches know that operating backs hardly ever pay dividends on profitable contracts. But they proceed to persuade themselves that every state of affairs is an exception. Kamara is a key piece of the Saints’ Tremendous Bowl puzzle, so why not threat mortgaging the long run? (Ask the Rams about Gurley.) McCaffrey and Kamara are versatile rushers and receivers, so they’ll age extra gracefully! (So is/was Bell.) As for Cook dinner, nicely, the Vikings merely get pleasure from paying retail for identify manufacturers.
Some groups additionally simply wish to reward profitable workers like Kamara and Cook dinner for his or her laborious work. That’s a laudable coverage in a league that hardly ever does something laudable. Younger operating backs promote jerseys, spur the fantasy trade, present thrills and encourage goals; it’s laborious to criticize their massive paydays with out sounding like a grouchy, myopic bean counter.