Not these days, no. If it was still the era of a single, primary back, then you might have an argument. But there's no way RBs can be paid the most b/c almost every team has a 2- or even 3-back rotation. The days of Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Jerome Bettis, etc are over.
There are only a couple of teams today that don't consistently use 2 RBs every single game; Tennessee and maybe Minnesota. But the Vikes drafted Gerhart and Taylor played A LOT last year, so I dont even think you can say that Peterson/Minnesota is a 1-back team.
RBs are much more interchangeable these days than franchise QBs are. And QB, no matter how much you hate it, is the most important position. Teams could have a GREAT RB, but that team could be average at best if they don't have a solid QB.
I think the most important positions in football are:
LT (or RT if you have a lefty QB)
I wouldn't say that RB's should be paid the most for the exact reason in the OP. Why should I invest the most in a player who's career is going to last an average of 5 or 6 years? I'm going to pay may QB the big bucks on a long term deal because he can actually have a great season despite being a 10 year vet.
Runningbacks are a dime in a dozen and rely on other things(O-line, coaching, system, etc). My philosophy is that if you have a good o-line it will make any running back look good(see old Denver Broncos, old KC chiefs, current Jets, etc). They are also done by 30 meaning they won't receive big contracts, after their rookie contract they'll be around 26.
Look at Thomas Jones this past season, he was the main guy w/Jets then Shonne Green came in and put up better production with the same circumstances despite being a rookie. You can plug in Running backs easily but you can't with other positions,
All I'm saying is the moment a RB puts up 1,500 yards... he should hold out the next year.
Chris Johnson put up 2,000 yards last season... He's possibly the greatest player in the NFL today... but we all know his career will be short lived because he is a RB. So he will not get the same amount of money as the other great players will simply because he is a RB.
All I'm saying is Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, MJD, and maybe Ray Rice should be the highest paid players in the league right now... not because they are the best players in the league, but because they are the best RB's in todays NFL and they should be rewarded more based on the simple fact that RBs have short careers and give their position demands the most from a physical standpoint.
The moment they are handed the ball they have 11 guys trying to rip his head off... and if they are not rushing the ball, they are expected to block some bad@ss LB.
I just think it should be mandatory for every team to reward a RB an extra $1 million or maybe $500,000 if he approaches a certain benchmark for the season (1000 yards?)
Here is an example why I think RB's should receive some kind of mandatory bonus:
I say Bill Parcells literally break in Julius Jones.... The coach made him run the ball 7 times in a row, even while he was injured. Now you can't really do that to any other position in the game...
Is that fair to Julius Jones? knowing that first of all RBs have short careers to begin with, and secondly a coach has the capability to make that player a work horse more than any other player on the team.
What if Wade Phillips made Marion Barber run the ball 500 times next year?
I think Larry Johnson had this problem with the Chiefs... and basically they overused him to the point that his career was cut short.
Like I said... if you are going to make a RB run the ball a certain amount of times... He should be rewarded for it.
I agree with this. It seems unfair because Running Backs are always exposed to worst injuries any given night. Sure it isn't the hardest or most important position but the amount of damage they take is ridiculous. Their career is likely to end and how will they get money if they can't play anymore.