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5 overpaid NFL running backs in 2021 season 

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook

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

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones

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.

AJ Dillon has more fantasy points than Aaron Jones the past 3 games they overlappedProbably just easing Jones back from injury in Week 12, but it was a critical game to win against LAR, and they leaned HEAVILY on DillonStats below ⬇️⬇️

#4 - Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans - $12.5 million

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry

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.

Derrick Henry hasn't played in a month, and Jonathan Taylor is still the only RB with more rushing yards than he has.

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

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook

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.

Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) is expected to miss at least the next two games - Sunday at Detroit and the following Thursday against Pittsburgh - with the hope being that he can return the next week for the Monday night Dec. 20 game at Chicago, per source.

#2 - Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints - $15 million

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara

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.

Alvin Kamara (knee) will not play tonight for the #Saints on TNF. It’ll be Kamara’s 4th straight missed game and the Saints are 0-3 without Kamara this season https://t.co/v2AO9pl3yf

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

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey

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.

Christian McCaffrey talks about being done for the season on Instagram https://t.co/QKEEZAMdc6

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.

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Edited by Piyush Bisht
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