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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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NFL’s Running Back Pay Debate Heats Up, Could Spark Big Changes

  • Issue now rising to NFLPA leadership
  • Colts owner Irsay denounces potential changes to franchise tag system
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The growing conflict regarding compensation for NFL running backs is only intensifying — and could ultimately need formal talks to settle.

After a series of bitter contract negotiations involving several top backs sparked outcry among numerous players, the issue has now reached the NFL Players Association, which has discussed potentially pursuing a new franchise tag system without position assignments.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay recently said such a move — and the broader unrest among running backs — is unwarranted.

“We have negotiated a CBA that took years of effort and hard work and good faith by both sides,” Irsay tweeted on Wednesday. “To say now that a specific player category wants another negotiation after the fact is inappropriate. Some agents are selling ‘bad faith.’”

The comments prompted immediate pushback from Malki Kawa, agent for Colts star running back Jonathan Taylor, who tweeted back, “Bad faith is not paying your top offensive player.”

Irsay is one of the league’s most outspoken and influential owners whose comments presaged the ultimate departure of former Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder. That influence will square up against newly appointed NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell, who also has separate issues involving his prior employer, consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Howell has been involved in the conversation among running backs as salaries soar to unprecedented levels for quarterbacks.

“There’s a ton that we can do,” said the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler. “One is controlling the narrative. We’re starting to put out this narrative that’s kind of combatant against what’s been out there so far.”

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