If there’s one thing we have learned over the past few years, it’s that you should think twice before resetting the running back market. Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley didn’t live up to their big extensions, and holdouts by Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Gordon’s did not bring forth the results they were hoping for. Adrian Peterson of the Washington Redskins has been one of those rare exceptions when it comes to durability as a running back, however, as the future Pro Football Hall of Famer is entering season No. 14 and still making major contributions on the field. This week, Peterson was asked by TMZ why running backs aren’t valued as highly as other positions such as quarterback, and Peterson responded saying he still hasn’t been able to figure it out.
“I still haven’t been able to answer that question, man,” said Peterson. “It’s disrespectful to be honest with you, it really is. But I think a change is going to come, I think this young core of guy and you know 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.'”
While the NFL is considered more of a passing league now, the top rushing team (Baltimore Ravens) finished with the best regular-season record in 2019, and the No. 2 rushing team (San Francisco 49ers) made it all the way to the the Super Bowl. The third best rushing offense in the Tennessee Titans made it to the AFC Championship game, as Derrick Henry quite literally carried his team through the postseason. Henry received the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but is still hopeful he will be able to secure an extension in the coming months.
Peterson is hopeful for the future of the running back position because of young talented players like Henry and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. In April, the Panthers reset the running back market by signing McCaffrey to a four-year deal worth $16 million per season. It was hard to challenge the Panthers on this decision, since McCaffrey has recorded two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to go along with two straight 100-catch performances, totaling nearly 2,400 total yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019.
“This young core of backs are really changing the game for the better,” said Peterson. “You look at McCaffrey and all he was able to do. So I feel like you’re going to continue to get guys like that that are going to help raise the value of the running back position.”
Not everyone can have a stellar career like Peterson has had. He is currently No. 5 on the all-time rushing list. It’s pretty incredible that he was able to record a 1,000-yard rushing season at the age of 33 and thinks he can play until he’s 39 or so. It will be interesting to see if players like Henry and McCaffrey can change the narrative when it comes to paying running backs in the future. Peterson certainly thinks they can.