Highest Paid Running Backs In The NFL

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Sunday, August 31st, 2014 | 0

Once depended on as the cornerstone of NFL offenses, workhorse running backs have somewhat became a dinosaur in the current trend of today’s passing focused NFL.

As players get bigger, stronger, and faster over time thanks to advances in modern training techniques, nutrition, and supplementation, the risk associated with plowing headfirst into an NFL defensive line grows too.

That makes running back committees a more and more utilized tool in today’s NFL, but a few true feature backs remain. They’re becoming a rarity, but if they can shoulder the workload as their team’s main back, they’re not surprisingly in for a huge payday. Here are the top five highest paid running backs in the NFL:

NFC Wild Card Game: Philadelphia Eagles v Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings – $11.75 million:

Long considered the finest back in all of the NFL, Peterson has been running through defenses since 2007 despite a seemingly revolving door of questionable supporting cast members in Minnesota. AP came within a few short yards of breaking the NFL single season rushing record in 2012, but injuries and overall mileage seemed slow him down at the tail end of 2013.

At 29-and-a half years old when the season starts for him next Sunday, he’s nearing that all-too-familiar breakdown age of 30 for running backs, so this season will be a telling one for the NFL’s highest paid running back. With offensive wizard Norv Turner set to take over as coordinator in Minnesota, expect Peterson to put up one of his best years ever if healthy.


Lesean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles – $7.65 million:

McCoy is the back that many believe to be the heir apparent to Peterson as the best in the league. In head coach Chip Kelly’s high-volume attack, McCoy sees a ton of touches, and he makes th most of them, leading the league in rushing last season.

He can take any play in for a score, and he’s also a great receiver out of the backfield. “Shady” will also enjoy the added security of another year of experience with young Philly quarterback Nick Foles.

McCoy is poised for an absolutely huge season this year, and he earns every dollar of his considerable salary. If the Eagles can finally do some damage in the playoffs, his value will skyrocket even more.


Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks – $6 million:

Seattle’s run to a successful Super Bowl season went straight through Lynch last year, so he gave the team a scare by holding out for more money at the beginning of training camp. The team gave him a raise to temporarily solve the issue, but nearing the end of his contract with a ton of wear and tear on his tires, Lynch could be set up for a decline.

Then again, Seattle’s run-heavy, defense-focused style of football could also result in Lynch quieting his doubters with another massive year. He’s received a ton of carries and punishment in the last few years, and with backup Christine Michael currently injured, that trend should continue in Seattle.

Lynch led the Seahawks to a championship, so it’s hard to argue with his paycheck here.


Matt Forte, Chicago Bears – $5.95 million:

Forte comes in at No. 4 just slightly under Lynch after a huge 2013 season under Chicago’s new head coach Marc Trestman. He caught over 70 passes out of the backfield and rushed for over 1,300 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns. Those kinds of stats are invaluable to any team in today’s high-scoring NFL, and his rushing attack opens up the Bears’ passing game with talented wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Forte has dealt with some injuries throughout the past, but every running back does. He enjoys the benefit of being in an absolutely lethal offense under an offensive guru. The pieces are in place for Forte’s value to far outweigh his salary this year.


Arian Foster, Houston Texans – $5.75 million:

Despite his considerable success in recent years, Foster is without a doubt the most worrisome runner on this list. The burden of an insane workload apparently caught up to him last year, as back surgery forced him out for a large chunk of the season. He’s also dealt with seemingly never-ending hamstring issues throughout his career, and he’s even publicly questioned whether or not he actually wants to keep putting his body through the abuse.

That’s understandable, but a lot of the Texans’ success will rest on him being a key component in 2014, so he’s going to have to earn his keep. The early prognosis isn’t looking good, and Foster’s motivation to keep enduring the rigors of the NFL season may just not be there anymore. We’re just going to have and wait and see if Foster will ever again deliver like he once did so spectacularly.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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