It's a recent hot topic of debate as to whether or not running backs deserve mega contracts in the NFL. The peaks of their careers are generally very short and they are one of the positions most prone to injuries because of the beating they take running the ball into the heart of the defense.
There are still some highly paid running backs in the 2021 NFL season. Several make over ten million dollars in salary this year. Justifying the concerns with paying them big money, many of them have been injured this year. Between missing time from injury and underwhelming production, here are five of the most overpaid running backs in the NFL.
#5 - Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers - $12 million
Now in his fifth year in the NFL, Aaron Jones has completed a season only once. On average he misses two and a half games per year due to injuries. Additionally, Jones has been unproductive in 2021. He barely ranks inside the top 20 in rushing yards and has only scored three rushing touchdowns this season. He shares carries with AJ Dillon this season.
#4 - Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans - $12.5 million
Derrick Henry appears to be the most deserving running back in the NFL to get a huge contract. He has only missed two total games across his first five seasons and topped the NFL in rushing yards the past two consecutive years.
He has not played in the Titans' last four games this year, but still ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards. Unfortunately, he was overpaid this season due to being unavailable. He could miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury.
#3 - Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings - $12.6 million
Dalvin Cook has had injury issues throughout his entire NFL career. He's never completed a full season and appeared in just 43 games across his first four years in the NFL. He is highly productive when on the field, averaging 4.7 yards per carry with 37 rushing touchdowns in 52 games.
Health is always going to be at risk with his contract. His production is valuable but his availability is unreliable. He recently suffered a shoulder injury in Week 12 and is out indefinitely. He will miss at least the next few weeks.
#2 - Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints - $15 million
Alvin Kamara is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He is one of the very best at it. He exceeded 500 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. He has also been durable, missing just four total games in those four years.
The durability took a turn for the worse in 2021. Kamara has already missed four games this season with an injury. His rushing production has dropped off this year as well. He is averaging a career-worst 3.6 yards per carry, more than a full yard worse than his 4.7 career average.
#1 - Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers - $16 million
Christian McCaffrey is the highest paid running back in the NFL. Due to his extensive list of recent injuries, he is also now the most overpaid. He has appeared in just ten of the Panthers' last 28 games and is set to miss the rest of the 2021 NFL season after being placed back on the injured reserve list.
At the conclusion of the season, McCaffrey will have missed 23 of the last 33 games for the Panthers after playing in his first 48 consecutive games. When healthy, he is one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL, but his durability is giving up on him. He registered back-to-back seasons with over 1000 rushing yards and 100 receptions prior to the injuries.