Someone finally topped LeSean McCoy.

A number of NFL running backs postured all offseason for a new contract that would make them the highest-paid player at their position. That title had been held by McCoy, who signed a five-year, $40-million extension with the Buffalo Bills in 2015.

On Tuesday, Devonta Freeman climbed atop the money heap as he inked a five-year extension with the Atlanta Falcons reportedly worth $41.25 million.

Now that Freeman has his deal, which backs are next in line to be the league’s highest-paid runners?

Le’Veon Bell


Bell is already the highest paid by annual average salary. He’d hoped to earn a long-term deal that would reset the running back market this offseason, but instead settled for a franchise tag that will pay him $12.1 million for the 2017 season.

At some point or another, however, Bell will own the largest contract. He could conceivably be franchise-tagged again in 2018, but considering he’s yet to arrive at training camp, he’s made it clear he wants the security a multi-year deal provides.

He’s just 25 and recorded the fifth-most rushing yards last season despite playing in only 12 games. It’s safe to say Bell will be the next highest-paid running back in the NFL – likely before the 2018 season begins.

Todd Gurley


Once Bell signs a new deal, Gurley won’t be far behind.

The Los Angeles Rams running back has one season and the possibility of a fifth-year option remaining on his rookie contract after the upcoming campaign. And while he struggled to produce in 2016, you can ignore the stats. Gurley is still considered among the best talents at the position and is one player the Rams can’t afford to let go. At some point, they’ll have to pay the price to keep him, and it’d be smart to do so before the running back market gets any higher.

Gurley can be projected to sign a long-term deal sometime prior to his fifth-year option season in 2019.

Ezekiel Elliott


Elliott has just one year under his belt, so he’ll have a lengthy wait for the big reward. But rest assured, he’ll become the league’s highest-paid running back when he’s up for a new contract.

Elliott’s current rookie deal will pay him $24 million over the course of four years – a bargain for the Cowboys – but then Jerry Jones will have to pony up to keep the talented youngster under the big top.

Before this season’s rookie class gets set to receive deals befitting professionals, Elliott will own the spotlight as the running back with the biggest contract. By then, rushers should be earning more than Freeman’s $8.25 million per year.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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