The Raiders have been faced with the reality that Michael Bush was going to test the free agent market for some time now. Franchising him wasn't an option because the price tag was simply too high ($7.7) and they placed it on safety Tyvon Branch. But now Bush is seeing his opportunities dry up and the Raiders are looking like his best option.
It was always assumed that the Bengals would be Bush's best option on the free agent market. They were letting Cedric Benson walk as a free agent and were therefore in need of a starter. That is the whole reason Bush is testing the market in the first place. Well, today they signed free agent Benjarvis Green-Ellis, formerly of the Patriots.
The other two places that Bush was scheduled to visit were the Seahawks and the Bears-Both of whom already have a starter in place. The Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch in place and the Bears have All Pro Matt Forte as their starter.
In Oakland he would be backing up Darren McFadden. But Bush knows full well that means by seasons end, that usually means he has more carries. In addition, he and McFadden claim to be very close friends so he would be in a friendly, familiar environment.
And finally, there is the zone blocking scheme. Bush would thrive in that system, as most running backs do. It is part of the reason the Raiders are not jumping at the chance of signing a back to big money. They feel like they can add a cheap short yardage back to replace Bush and team up with McFadden and Taiwan Jones and still have success.
And this is where the rubber meets the road. How much would the Raiders pay to bring back Bush? If they would rather just choose a running back in the low rounds of the draft or off the scrap heap of free agency, Bush may still choose another team simply because he could paid a lot more elsewhere. Even if it means he has to be a complementary back again.
But if the Raiders could work out a deal to bring Bush back at a reasonable salary, that would be huge for them. Bush would continue to rack up yards in relief of McFadden if/when he goes down with an injury. And with the big money that McFadden makes, if he continues to go down with injuries, he could be leaving soon which would turn the starting job over to Bush outright. He knows this as well as anyone.
If Bush is smart, he will re-sign with the Raiders. If only on a one-year deal when he can revisit his options next offseason.