Are the Chicago Bears part of the running back salary problem?

Chicago Bears, David Montgomery
Chicago Bears, David Montgomery / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
2 of 3
Chicago Bears, Matt Forte
Chicago Bears, Matt Forte / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

Running backs are massively underpaid and the Chicago Bears don't help

Matt Forte was not given a contract extension right away and had to force the Chicago Bears' hand to make more money. He was literally a true three-down back and saw more touches than anyone on the team most years. The Chicago Bears refused to pay Thomas Jones and instead drafted Cedric Benson to replace him. These are just a couple of other examples of how the Chicago Bears continue down the path of devaluing the running back position despite it being one of the staples of the team's history.

Just this past offseason, David Montgomery left the Chicago Bears to play for the Detroit Lions. Montgomery took a contract that is paying him $6 million per year in AAV. That makes him the 13th-highest-paid running back in the NFL. The top salary belongs to Christian McCaffrey who is earning $16 million per year in AAV. Currently, he and four other running backs are the only ones to be earning over $10 million per year. Now, let's put that into perspective.

The top six wide receivers in the NFL are earning between $24 million and $30 million in AAV. The league is becoming a passing league and the NFL has adjusted to pay the top receivers accordingly. The problem is, it isn't just the top receivers in the league earning more money than running backs.

Let's look at Allen Lazard who is earning $11 million in AAV to be the Jets WR3/4. If you recall, only five running backs are making over $10 million. This includes Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara. Those are some highly productive players. Running backs who touch the ball over 250 times per year. Running backs who normally score double-digit touchdowns each year. Lazard on the other hand only has 20 career touchdowns in his five-year career. Wait, there's more.