Top Paid NFL Running Back Combos

Top Paid NFL Running Back Combos
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Top Paid NFL Running Back Combos

Recently the insiders at the mothership (ESPN) provided a list of the most productive running back team combinations heading into the 2012 season. This sparked our premium team to take a similar look at these players - only contractually.

Take a look at the list of top paid running back combinations for the 2012 season, and how long their contracts currently keep them in tact:
Top-Paid Running Back Combinations in 2012
  1. Minnesota Vikings ($12 million)

    Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart
    ESPN Ranking: 5

    Gerhart has been one of the most notable players in early preseason action - a sigh of a relief for VIkings fans who endured a miserable 2011 and a scary injury to their franchise player in Peterson. Peterson, signed through 2017, claims he's at full strength, and is set to be the Week 1 starter. But Gerhart, signed through 2013 has shown signs of being a viable every down back should Peterson's health falter again. A strong role from Gerhart this season should earn him an extension.

  2. Carolina Panthers ($11.4 million)

    DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart
    ESPN Ranking: 1

    There's no question this running arsenal is as talented and as deep as it gets in the NFL (throw in Mike Tolbert and the elusive Cam Newton), but many worry that too much of a good thing can be an issue. The Panthers have been able to balance Williams, signed through 2015, and Stewart, recently extended through 2017, often when forced to due to an injury. 2012 will be a test for this coaching staff and the egos of these athletes as the ball will clearly need to be spread to 4-5 options regularly.

  3. Tennessee Titans ($10.65 million)

    Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer
    ESPN Ranking: N/A

    2011 was a nightmare season for the Titans in terms of value, and making the most of a rebuilding team. Fresh off a newly signed contract, Chris Johnson put up career-lows across the board. He has an awful lot to live up to in 2012, counting more than $10 million against the cap, signed through 2016. To add fuel to the fire, backup Javon Ringer - who showed signs of production in 2011, is entering the final year of his contract. Tennessee has a lot of work to do to solidify this position going forward.

  4. St. Louis Rams ($9.63 million)

    Steven Jackson, Isaiah Pead
    ESPN Ranking: 13

    The Rams took a step back in 2011 but are positioned to continue to build. The franchise still lives and dies by the health and production of Steven Jackson, signed through 2013. Jackson counts a fairly reasonable $8.9M against the cap this and next year, leaving the Rams ample room to solidify a #2 and #3 back to fall in behind him. Rookie Isaiah Pead is being slated to do just that, and with production can really change the culture in St. Louis quickly.

  5. Jacksonville Jaguars ($8.88 million)

    Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings
    ESPN Ranking: 12

    Jones-Drew has been the topic of conversation for the past few months as his continuing holdout has now turned ugly. But the Jaguars can't logically extend Jones-Drew until they know they have viable backups under contract behind him. Jennings is entering a contract year, and with a fair percentage of carries, might prove to be worth an extension in Jacksonville. His upcoming preseason snaps are crucial to the franchise long-term. Jones-Drew carries an $8.3M cap hit in 2012, and an $8.8M cap hit in 2013, the final year of his deal. It should be in his best interest to worth with the Jaguars to extend BOTH Jennings and himself in the immediate future in order to secure a viable combination that can reduce the obscene workload MJD has been handed in the past 3 seasons.

  6. Seattle Seahawks ($8.87 million)

    Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington
    ESPN Ranking: N/A

  7. Chicago Bears ($8.8 million)

    Matt Forte, Michael Bush
    ESPN Ranking: 6

  8. Houston Texans ($8.75 million)

    Arian Foster, Ben Tate
    ESPN Ranking: 4

  9. Oakland Raiders ($8.37 million)

    Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones
    ESPN Ranking: N/A

  10. Atlanta Falcons ($8.01 million)

    Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers
    ESPN Ranking: N/A

Final Thoughts
While half of these combinations lie on good teams, none of these teams are great. In fact, many of these teams didn't qualify for the postseason in 2011. In breaking down the complete list, the teams at the bottom, Green Bay and Pittsburgh, are perennial postseason powerhouses.

It should also be noted that teams like the Ravens, Eagles, and Bills who all extended their primary running back prior to the 2012 season don't even crack the top 10 on this list as they've set themselves up with a veteran and a rookie to keep their combination numbers lower.

The bottom line conclusion with this data has to be that paying more than one primary back isn't currently translating into a Super Bowl potential team. Many experts feel that the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills have a chance to change this culture and use depth in numbers to stay consistent and productive. In this case and many others, the 2012 season will define the future of football.
Read the ESPN Article Sourced here