clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ask a former NFL player: What’s the value of a running back today?

This week’s topics for retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz include whether it’s ever OK to root for a rival and how Carson Wentz’s new contract affects Dak Prescott.

The weekly mailbag is here for your enjoyment. I appreciate all the questions and if I don’t answer them this week, I’ll get to them next week or just answer your DM.

As a reminder, if you want a question submitted, send it into my Twitter or Instagram DMs.

Do you agree with the “RBs have no value” people? I’m torn on the issue. Can’t deny that RB shelf life is ridiculously short but at same time, every team needs a reliable run game. It’s a tough one. What do you think?@PTTF_Eli

I’ve been fortunate to play with a Hall of Fame running back (Adrian Peterson), a would have been Hall of Famer if he stayed healthy (Jamaal Charles), and two excellent “Double Trouble” backs (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart). I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for those players.

That being said, there’s no value in having a highly paid running back if you don’t have a quarterback and offensive line in place beforehand. Even then, I’m not sure you should ever pay a running back past their rookie contract because of three things.

First, passing the ball is more important than rushing the ball. You can’t deny the data, and passing efficiency is the most important stat that correlates to winning a game. Having an expensive running back doesn’t fit the overall team needs.

Second, those teams that do spend big for a running back aren’t winning many playoff games and haven’t won a Super Bowl since when? Terrell Davis and the Broncos?

And third, we’ve seen ample evidence that grabbing a running back after the first round, using that player until the end of his rookie deal, and then finding someone else works.

If that answer isn’t good enough, we can look at the evidence on the field. Undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay had a terrific season for the Broncos. The last two Super Bowl winners were running back by committee. Even the Patriots’ opponent, the LA Rams, used a backup running back down the stretch who was just as successful in that offense as Todd Gurley.

But, since nothing is an absolute in life: I’d pay Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys. I feel as though he’s the one running back in the league who makes an offense go.

Now, the Cowboys do have their offensive line set and have Dak Prescott, but Elliot just does so much for this offense. He’s outstanding out of the backfield and in the screen game. He takes pressure off of Prescott and doesn’t force Prescott to win a bunch of games by himself. Also, we’ve seen that without Elliot their offense just isn’t the same.

So I’d break my “no paying running back” rule for Elliott.

With Carson Wentz getting the deal he gotten, do you think Dak Prescott cashes in big time, given that he has had better success over the last three years compared to Wentz’s availability and numbers?@Ptaylor_94

The Eagles just gave fourth-year quarterback Wentz the largest guaranteed money deal in NFL history. This deal, in line with the Eagles’ philosophy of paying their own players before their free agency year, is based on Wentz’s potential and his talent, because he’s not been able to finish the last two years healthy. It’s a good deal for both sides.

As for Prescott, yes the Cowboys must pay him, unless something funky happens. They have no other option. They won’t be in a draft position to snag a young quarterback next season without giving up massive future equity.

Plus, Prescott can be an elite quarterback. That “can” is the big thing I want to see this season.

I want the offense to be more aggressive under first-year playcaller Kellen Moore. They return Amari Cooper, brought back Jason Witten, and added free agent Randall Cobb. Travis Frederick comes back to anchor the offensive line as well. All the parts are there for the offense to take another step with Prescott in charge.

So, the Cowboys need to pay him and they might get rewarded with a new and improved Prescott.

I got into this argument with a buddy and think it’d be cool to see an ex-pro athlete’s opinion. Is it ever alright to root for your rival? He said it depends if you like a player on the team. I said only way is if it helps my team get into the playoffs. @kjbrophy

The only appropriate time to root for a rival is when that rival can help your team. That’s it. You should have no favorite player on the rival team. That means you don’t hate them enough. You can respect a player on the team you hate, but in no way can you root for that player.