When the sun came up this morning, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy was the third highest-paid player at his position in the NFL.
The top player on the list was Adrian Peterson of the Vikings. Minnesota announced they wouldn’t be picking up his option for 2017, making him a free agent come March 9.
The next player was the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles. He was released this afternoon, likely in a cost-cutting move coming on the heels of massive extensions to guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and safety Eric Berry.
That means that, for the moment, Shady is the NFL’s highest-paid running back. It’s not often that a player becomes the highest-paid at his position based off of a contract he signed two offseasons ago, but here we are. His 2017 cap hit of $8.875 million and average annual value of $8 million are both ahead of the Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart, while his 2017 cash earnings (base salary plus workout bonus) of $6.25 million ties him with Stewart and DeMarco Murray of the Titans.
A couple caveats, however: if you clicked on any of those links, you probably noticed that LeVeon Bell of the Steelers is ahead of McCoy on all three lists. Bell was hit with the franchise tag by Pittsburgh yesterday, and while the tag values haven’t been finalized yet the running back value is expected to be north of $12 million. At some point, he’ll either sign the deal or work out a long-term extension with the Steelers that should pay him at least $10 million a year, if not more. Also, since Peterson is not being released outright, he’s technically under contract until the new league year opens on March 9, so he’ll still have the highest totals until that date. Once the new league year opens, however, McCoy will be number one...unless Bell signs prior to that date.
It’s a near certainty that McCoy’s time on top of the mountain will be short-lived. Still, given how well he performed last year and how much he means to the Bills, it’s a well-deserved honor, however fleeting it may be.