COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — When the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons face off in the Super Bowl, they will feature three running backs still playing on meager rookie contracts: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and James White.
NFL players on rookie contracts typically receive less money than a successful player on his second contract. And rookies who are drafted in higher positions typically earn more money than those taken in later draft rounds.
Freeman, who was drafted in the fourth round, and Coleman, a third-round pick, have offered incredible value to the Falcons. Freeman cost the Falcons approximately $668 dollars per rushing yard, about a third as much as breakout star Ezekiel Elliott cost the Dallas Cowboys. White, who is primarily a pass-catching back, was paid more per rushing yard than the average running back on his first contract.
White offered incredible value in the passing game, at $1,269 per receiving yard, as did Freeman and Coleman. Both outperformed two star rookie-contract receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans.