Dalvin Cook just finished his 2019 campaign with outstanding numbers. In 14 games he racked up over 16 hundred yards and 13 touchdowns. Now, he wants to be payed as he played, and he is asking for a contract extension worth 12-14 million a year. With Zeke making 12 million, Gurley making 14, and McCaffrey making 16, it only seems fair.
But should the Vikings fork over Elite money to Cook just because he is Elite? With a position becoming less valuable by the minute, I would say no.
I made this post in May ranking the importance of each position.
As you can see, I ranked safety, cornerback, interior lineman, and tight end over running back despite those positions making close-to or less than running backs.
But why are running backs not as valuable as other positions? I'll give you 3 reasons.
The league is changing. Teams used to run all the time. Now, new, explosive offenses are dominating the league. Teams used to run on first down all the time. Now, It is almost never beneficial to run on first down compared to passing according to new analysis. Coaches are realizing that the future is in passing. Why pay a running back to get banged up when you can pay a dynamic receiver that gets hit twice a game? Rules are changing to help the pass and to help receivers. The players are realizing it too. We just had possibly the deepest wide receiver draft ever. And the next couple classes of receivers look even better.
The running back is ran by a scheme. Look at the 49ers and the ravens. They don't have incredible running backs yet they had some of the best success last year running the ball. GM's are figuring out that you can load up your O-line, and threaten the defense with your passing. Empty the box and turn running into a numbers game.
Finally, teams with great running backs don't fair much better than regular backs. In a post from February, I ranked the top 8 running backs. 5 didn't make the playoffs. I think that speaks for itself.
NFL GM's are starting to agree with this mindset. Melvin Gordon was in deep contract disputes with the chargers last season, and he was instantly replaced by Austin Ekeler. Should a GM give Dalvin Cook a 14 million dollar contract when they could give one to a unguardable tightend, or a defense-leading safety? I'll let you be the judge of that.