Ezekiel Elliott deal highlights Ravens bargain at running back
Ezekiel Elliott just agreed to a big deal with the Dallas Cowboys. The Baltimore Ravens could get just as much (if not more) from their running backs for a much better bargain:
The Baltimore Ravens must be looking around the league and laughing at how much teams are spending on running backs. The New York Jets gave Le’Veon Bell a four year deal north of $50 million with $35 million guaranteed. The Cowboys just gave Ezekiel Elliott a six year contract extension with $50 million in guaranteed money according to reports.
Anybody who wants Melvin Gordon to play for their team has to be willing to trade a first round pick and give Gordon a new contract. All around the league the stars at the running back position are getting unprecedented money.
The Ravens have a chance to lead the NFL in rushing and their backfield is operating under a very reasonable budget. They are doing it differently and it looks like it’s going to work.
The Ravens signed Mark Ingram to a three year deal with only $6.5 million in guaranteed money. Justice Hill is a rookie and a fourth round pick at that. Hill is getting a good paycheck, but in the world of the NFL it’s not a lot. Gus Edwards is actually making less than him. The Ravens have three running backs and not even $10 million dollars in guaranteed money.
The Ravens formula is the way to do it. It’s not that running backs are a dime a dozen. Elliott is a superstar who makes a big difference for the Cowboys. Superstars get paid their market value. The Ravens could have gone that route by signing Bell this offseason. Instead, they chose to sign a good running back at a much better price. They then drafted Hill to complete their backfield trio.
If the Ravens lead the league in rushing, they will show that their business model is the one to be replicated. You pay one running back decent money, and put talented young backs with him. By the time Baltimore has to give Edwards or Hill a new deal, it will be time to move on from Ingram. The Ravens can just keep it going by giving Hill a good but reasonable contract and finding another diamond in the rough in the NFL Draft.
Signing Ingram was one of Eric DeCosta’s first moves as the general manager of the purple and black. It was a savvy move that other teams may want to pay attention to. A running back by committee approach with three solid contributors makes more practical sense than awarding one running back a huge chunk of the salary cap.