Know When to Hold ‘Em

oldman Via ESPN Inside Slant | Running back cliff after age 27
The red line represents all running backs who have played at least four NFL seasons since 2001, with a minimum average of 75 carries per season. Overall, we see their careers peak at age 27. Afterward, their rushing totals drop by 15 percent in one year, 25 percent in two and almost 40 by the time they are 30.
Recently, ESPN published this article on RB production trying to make sense of the lack of free agency buzz for the running back market. One thing I found interesting is that this article points out that RBs tend to peak in production right before their rookie contracts expire. That dovetails nicely with my first ever blurb about contract year production. The data cited there hinted that player performance rolled off when they switched teams (or coaching staffs). In this case, I’d speculate that perhaps the best RBs sign extensions and continue being productive past their age 27 season while others become free agents, switch teams and see a decline leading to the overall shape of this graph. That’s just idle speculation; the takeaway is that players inevitably decline in production. You heard it here first.

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By Zach Dietz | @ | Archive