Star NFL RBs meet on Zoom to talk financial state of position

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Monday, July 24, 2023

Several star NFL running backs took part in a Zoom call Saturday to discuss the depressed market for players at their position.

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb confirmed Sunday he participated in the call and said Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey also were in the meeting. Josh Jacobs also took part, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler., which first reported the news, said the meeting was organized by the Los Angeles Chargers' Austin Ekeler, who has been outspoken about NFL running backs not being paid their true worth.

The source told Fowler that the running backs kicked around ideas during the call, but no major plans emerged from the meeting.

"Right now, there's really nothing we can do,"Chubb said Sunday. "We're kind of handcuffed with the situation. We're the only position that our production hurts us the most. If we go out there and run 2,000 yards with so many carries, the next year they're going to say, you're probably worn down. It's tough. ... It hurts us at the end of the day."

Barkley and Jacobs received the franchise tag from the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively, but were unable to agree to long-term contracts before last Monday's deadline. Neither player has signed their franchise tender, worth $10.091 million for running backs, and are not expected to report to training camp with the rest of their teams, ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported. The two unsigned stars will lose money only if they miss regular-season games and forfeit game checks.

Barkley said on the "The Money Matters" podcast that was recorded before the deadline for franchised players to agree to long-term deals that he has considered not playing for the Giants this season amid his stalemate with the team.

The Dallas Cowboys' Tony Pollard also received the franchise tag, but unlike Barkley and Jacobs, has signed his tender.

After the three running backs were unable to agree to long-term deals before the deadline, several prominent running backs, including Henry, McCaffrey, Ekeler and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Najee Harris, tweeted about their displeasure over the financial state of their position.

"We're definitely in a tough situation, running backs as a whole. Saquon's a great player, and you can ask anyone around the league or even on the Giants how much he means to that team. So it's hard seeing him not get what he deserves," Chubb said Sunday.

The last time a running back signed a long-term contract worth $10 million or more per season was the Browns' Chubb in 2021. Chubb's contract runs through the 2024 season, but he has no guaranteed money after this season.

"I know it can be me one day,"Chubb said. "I'm just kind of playing both sides. I'm here for my team. But I'm also understanding the situation I could be in."

McCaffrey is currently the highest-paid running back, averaging just over $16 million per season in a contract he signed when he was with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. Now with the San Francisco 49ers, his contract runs through the 2025 season.

ESPN's Jake Trotter contributed to this report.

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