Most Underpaid Running Backs in the NFL

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New England Patriots running back Damien Harris runs with the ball
(AP Photo/Doug Murray)
Colton Pool @CPoolReporter Jul 18, 2022, 2:36 PM

Some of the best running backs aren’t compensated accordingly. And that’s one of the many ways teams with the best NFL odds can compose a winning roster.

Here’s a look at some of the squads that spend the least on running backs.

NFL Running Back Spending

The Philadelphia Eagles, who have Super Bowl odds of +2500, have the smallest cap hit for running backs with $5.9 million in 2022, according to Spotrac.

TeamRB Cap MoneyTotal
Cowboys24.2M203.2M
Titans20.4M212.4M
Vikings19.0M205.1M
Dolphins18.7M216.6M
Seahawks18.1M181.3M
Bengals17.2M214.9M
Browns15.3M167.1M
Raiders13.9M186.3M
Panthers13.9M198.5M
Saints12.8M192.1M
Ravens12.7M212.8M
Steelers12.2M200.3M
Chargers12.0M225.8M
Texans11.5M186.3M
Colts11.3M222.3M
Giants11.3M196.4M
Lions11.0M217.3M
Packers10.4M200.4M
Broncos9.3M223.4M
Falcons9.2M158.6M
49ers9.1M231.8M
Cardinals9.0M217.1M
Bills8.8M216.3M
Chiefs8.8M218.7M
Buccaneers7.8M199.9M
Commanders7.8M225.1M
Bears7.3M158.9M
Jets7.3M233.7M
Jaguars7.3M232.8M
Patriots7.1M227.7M
Rams7.0M205.1M
Eagles5.9M196.6M
Average11.8M205.8M

Most Underpaid and Overpaid NFL Players

Overpaid Quarterbacks | Underpaid Quarterbacks | Overpaid Running Backs | Overpaid Wide Receivers | Underpaid Wide Receivers | Overpaid Offensive Linemen | Underpaid Offensive Linemen | Overpaid Defensive Linemen | Underpaid Defensive Linemen | Overpaid Linebackers | Underpaid Linebackers | Overpaid Defensive Backs | Underpaid Defensive Backs

Most Underpaid Running Back Groups

New England Patriots

The Patriots don’t invest much money in their backfield, and yet had one of the most productive backs in 2021.

The Patriots have the third-smallest cap hit for the position at $7.1 million, which is just 3% of its team cap.

Damien Harris wasn’t relied on as a workhorse running back, ranking 15th with 211 carries in 2021. However, he was still one of the most effective when he did have the ball. He was fifth by DYAR and 10th in DVOA, value metrics from Football Outsiders.

Harris’ cap hit is just $1.2 million. James White leads the team in this department at $1.5 million. And despite these low numbers, New England was seventh in rushing DVOA as a team last year and doesn’t appear to be taking a step back in 2022.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leonard Fournette was second in the league in DYAR and fifth in DVOA. He was eighth in the league with 1,030 effective rushing yards. 

But he’s 21st at his position with a cap hit of $3.7 million this year. That’s worth his productivity compared to the rest of the market, and his role in Tampa Bay’s offense is likely to increase.

Overall, the Buccaneers have been smart with their running back spending. They have the eighth-lowest cap hit at this position group with $7.8 million. That’s 3.8% of their total cap.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn ($1.3 million) and Giovani Bernard ($1 million) also factor into this, but neither make more than 0.7% of the team’s cap.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones, one of the best backs in the league, has the 11th-highest cap hit for his position at $5.9 million. And yet the Packers’ cap hit for the entire position is still below average, and their ground game is one of the NFL’s best.

Green Bay’s running back cap hit is $10.4 million, which is 15th. As a team, the Packers were in the top 10 in rushing DVOA at eighth.

AJ Dillon is second on the team with a $1.4 million cap hit. Jones and Dillon make up one of the NFL’s best backfield tandems.

Last season, Jones was 13th in DYAR and 14th in DVOA, while Dillon was eighth and 15th, respectively. Jones was 15th in yards after contact per attempt (3.15) while Dillon was tied for 17th (3.14).

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About the Author

Colton Pool

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Colton Pool is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM living in Bozeman, Montana, focusing on the NFL and NBA. Previously, he covered Montana State football at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and worked at newspapers in his home state of North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State in 2015.

Colton Pool is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM living in Bozeman, Montana, focusing on the NFL and NBA. Previously, he covered Montana State football at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and worked at newspapers in his home state of North Dakota. He graduated from North Dakota State in 2015.