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Panthers RB Miles Sanders: 'Almost every running back is underpaid right now'

The devaluation of the running back position has been under the microscope this offseason, with high-profile pigskin-toters getting released and few lucrative deals handed out in free agency.

Miles Sanders' four-year, $25.4 million contract with the Carolina Panthers represents the top multi-year contract signed thus far this offseason. Sanders received $13 million guaranteed, but the $6.35 million average per year is far less than in past years.

Sanders joined the chorus of backs decrying the diminishing running back market Wednesday on The Rich Eisen Show.

"It's nothing that we're doing wrong," Sanders said. "We're doing everything that we have to do as far as on the field and stuff like that. For people and GMs or owners to think that running backs are not as valued as much is a lie because you've got to see how everything plays out. You've got to see what guys like Christian McCaffrey, the stuff he does, things that Saquon Barkley (does), the things that Josh Jacobs (does) consistently each year. ...

"You want to franchise tag and create a certain market for running backs just because you have this way of thinking that they only last three or four years. I think it's B.S., honestly. Almost every running back is underpaid right now. I don't know what it's gonna take. That's a topic that needs to be brought up a little more because it sucks to be a running back right now, honestly."

The offseason started ominously for backs, with the top three pending free agents (Barkley, Jacobs and Tony Pollard) getting franchise tagged at $10.091 million. The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Jones reworked his deal, cutting out $5 million from his previous contract.

Sanders noted that the franchise tag situation essentially capped his market.

"Just to really try to get a deal done because I know that the numbers were dropping literally daily as soon as free agency started," he said when asked about inking his deal early in the process. "Once they made the market $10 million, it was very hard to even negotiate anything even more than that or get like a deal that everybody's been dreaming of -- the Christian McCaffrey deal, the Alvin Kamara deal. It is what it is. It makes me hungrier. I'm a still go and do what I do each year and hopefully earn, force a new contract."

Sanders projects as the Panthers' top back alongside Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear in Carolina after a career year in Philadelphia, earning 1,269 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl.

The issue for Sanders and all other running backs is that the supply outweighs demand in a pass-happy NFL. That won't stop RBs from clamoring to be compensated better than the current market.

"It's definitely something that needs to be fixed," Sanders said, "because there's too much talent out there being underpaid as far as in the running back position."

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