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Are running backs now expendable in the National Football League?

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Today we debate whether the running back position has depreciated in today’s NFL.

New York Jets Minicamp Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

In the latest episode of the BTSC ‘Think Tank’ I ponder the question whether the running back position in the National Football League is depreciating. Pittsburgh Steelers fans know about this debate all too well after Le’Veon Bell’s franchise tag contract situations.

Bell, the most complete back in the NFL at the time, wanted to be paid not just as a top running back, but also as a No. 2 wide receiver due to this tremendous ability to catch the football.

These issues eventually resulted in Bell refusing to sign his franchise tag, sitting out the entire 2018 season, and leaving for the New York Jets via free agency prior to the 2019 season. But it also equated in the emergence of James Conner. This type of success has many people feeling as if you can just draft a mid-round running back and get the same type of production as the high profile backs in the NFL.

Players like Kareem Hunt, Conner and Alvin Kamara are considered clear cut examples of this thought process. However, recently, Melvin Gordon, who said he wanted a new contract from the Chargers or a trade, suggested it isn’t so easy replacing a great back.

“Clearly, you seen what happened when Zeke was out. It was a completely different team,” Gordon said Saturday at SportsCon 2019 in Dallas. “You can replace average backs. Yeah, just plug them in. But a great back? You can’t just replace a great back. People think you can do that. You can’t. It will be a difference. It will be a difference, man. We do so much for people to even try to devalue us. We block. We’ve got to run the ball. We’ve got to pick up protections. We have to catch the ball. We have to do what receivers do. We have to do our thing. We have so much that goes through us.

“I tell people the hardest position outside of quarterback. . . .That’s the only position [that’s harder] because you have to know so much. Outside of that, running back is the next hardest position on the field, and we should get paid as such.”

What do you think? Do you feel as if running backs in today’s NFL are expendable? Or are there still backs in the league who can be viewed as franchise players? Players who a team should empty the bank account for?

The BTSC Think Tank is developed to be a discussion based article in the comment section below. So, let us know your thoughts!