One guy gets paid. Everyone else wants theirs. That’s the drama among NFL running backs plainly stated since DeAngelo Williams re-upped with the Carolina Panthers and received a five-year contract worth a possible $43 million with guaranteed money of $21 million. That’s a big time contract. Frank Gore, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte are pointing at that figure and wondering if they can find similar numbers from their front offices — and they’re possibly holding out because of it.
How does this compare to a deal just finished between Scott Pioli and Jamaal Charles? It’s a timely question considering the Kansas City Chiefs just locked up their own franchise back only several months ago, giving Charles a five-year $32.5 million deal with a reported $13 million guaranteed. Shortly after announcing the deal, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio put out a report saying the real numbers are more like $8 million guaranteed.
Will Charles be frustrated with his deal either now or later? The immediate response to Charles’ deal was that he could have done better, and given the new CBA, perhaps that’s the case. But it should be noted that Williams is a more experienced back with over 4,200 yards in five seasons. Last year a foot injury limited Williams to six starts and, consequently, his productivity went with him. But before then, he had put together back to back 1,000 yard seasons and displayed a nose for the end zone with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2008.
Then again, is Williams really worth that much more than Charles at this point? I can’t imagine a single team or fan base who would want Williams over Jamaal Charles at this point. Charles looks less like a franchise back that most teams have around the league and more like a top two elite talent in the NFL — someone who could be historically great if he’s able to avoid injury. For now, the waters will remain calm around Charles simply because the contract is so new, but another season or two like Charles had in 2010 might force Pioli to renegotiate Charles’ contract for the sake of keeping his best player happy.