Jaguars RB Travis Etienne about deflated running back market on point (sort of)

• The Jaguars have a highly productive running back in Travis Etienne

• Etienne needs he needs to execute to get paid and says that's fine with him

Jul 28, 2023; Jacksonville, FL, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1)
Jul 28, 2023; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a meritocracy. Deliver and you'll get paid... unless you're a running back. Josh Jacobs is coming off a career season and got the franchise tag instead of a top-market contract that reflected his value as one of the best players at the position. Similarly, Saquon Barkley was a key cog on the New York Giants offense and also got the tag before recently getting a slight in salary. Although Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne isn't up for an extension until 2024, he shared his thoughts on the devalued value of the position as a whole.

Etienne met with the local media following Day 4 of Jaguars training camp and touched on several topics, including not having to go through rehab in the offseason, the team's running back room, and the running back market. In regards to the devalued value of the position nowadays, the former Clemson Tiger basically says that it is what it is and there's not much he can do but to keep grinding, so he's got a shot at getting paid.

I feel like I don't have a word in that, honestly. I feel like the market is what the market is," Etienne said. "For me to go out there and get the best deal for myself, I have to come out here and work hard each and every day. If I don't produce or be productive, I'm not going to even be in that conversation or they might not be looking to pay me. So the best thing I can do is keep my head down and keep working and win games for my football team."

Etienne goes on to say that if you're special talent, you'll get top-market contract compensation. He goes on to say that having a wide skillset also helps.

"You'd love to see some backs get paid like Christian McCaffrey. For instance, he catches the ball in the backfield, so I feel like the running backs moving forward, you have to diversify a game, you want to be more than just a downhill bruiser in order to be able to be in that level, in order to talk that leverage whenever you're going into the conversation", Etienne said.

Etienne, a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury but was highly productive last year, toting the rock 220 times for 1,255 yards with five touchdowns. On top of that, he added 316 yards through the air on 35 receptions. Having enjoyed an offseason free of rehab, the Louisiana native says he's working on being even better than he was last year. Here's Etienne's full exchange with the media.

Jaguars RB Travis Etienne is playing the card he was dealt but it shouldn't be like that

Etienne is almost right when he says the top players get rewarded. Due to the dearth of starting quarterbacks, even those that are good but not great get premium compensation. Similarly, middle-of-the-pack receivers and edge rushers are paid handsomely in free agency. However, running backs are treated as damaged goods once they hit the open market.

Josh Jacobs proved that a running back can play to the best of his capacity and still not get paid. The same is true for Saquon Barkley, he bounced back last year and showed he was still the same game-changer he was when the G-Men made him the No. 2 overall pick in 2018. Nevertheless, he had to make a stand before New York gave him a slight raise, and that doesn't happen with quarterbacks or wide receivers.

Going back to Etienne's comments, he's right that there's not much he can do but it shouldn't be like that. Just recently, Jonathan Taylor met with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to talk about his future with the team only to be shunned. That wouldn't have probably happened if Taylor played a position such as wide receiver and quarterback.

As Etienne noted, there's not much he can do right now but to show up to work and prove he deserves to get paid. It will be interesting to see if he can buck the trend and how the Jacksonville Jaguars will deal with future contract talks.

Here are other recent Jaguars stories you might also like: