The Raiders are losing Michael Bush in free agency year. The reliable backup running back has been the starter quite often in his time with the Raiders-mainly because he is backup to one of the more unreliable starters in the NFL. Bush is an outstanding backup/part time starter and will make some team pretty happy as a full time starter. But the Raiders will now need to replace him.
This will not be an easy task. Bush had a rare skill set. He was as fast as he was big and the Raiders will be on the lookout for someone who they can use to try and replicate his production. The back must be a complement to the speed and breakaway abilities of Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones. A back that can pound through the line in short yardage but also has a couple more gears to break off a few good sized runs.
Here are the backs available that may be able to fill that role for the Raiders as free agents:
Brandon Jacobs (NYG)- The moment the news dropped that Jacobs was released, he jumped right to the top of this list. He and whomever the change up backs were in the Giants backfield have been who Bush and McFadden have been compared with for years. He wouldn't be a long term solution because he is a power back who will be 30 before the season starts. The good news is that will lower his price tag. Also, with a reduced role, the Raiders could get a couple seasons out of him.
Mike Tolbert (SD) - The Chargers are faced with a decision on whether to keep Tolbert or Jacob Hester and it appears they will be opting for Hester. Tolbert offers the most similar skill set to Bush out there. He is a great utility back who would perform the duties of complementary back to Dmac the same as Bush did. There is of course the added bonus of getting a player off of a rival.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) - The "other" law firm is not one who will wow you with his speed or agility. But he is a great short yardage back who has enough speed and quickness to be a feature back if called upon. He is also extremely reliable, having never fumbled in his NFL career.
Jackie Battle (KC)- After four seasons of obscurity in Kansas City, he really came on last season rushing for 597 yards in just 4 starts. Two of his better rushing performances on the season came against the Raiders. He is also a big back at 6-2, 238 pounds and the Raiders would be glad to have him. And like Tolbert, he would be a player taken from a rival.
Ronnie Brown (PHI)-He fell off the radar last season with the
Dream Team Philadelphia Eagles. But what is forgotten is not necessarily lost. He played a pivotal role in the Dolphins wildcat formation for a few years. That style of running would translate well to the zone blocking scheme.
Cadillac Williams (STL)- He was Ronnie Brown's college backfield mate so he too is used to being a complementary back. He exploded onto the scene as a rookie in Tampa Bay and had a few good years there, albeit riddled with injuries. He signed with the Rams as a free agent prior to last season and rushed for 361 yards as backup to Stephen Jackson. And as bad as that offensive line was, his 4.1 yards per carry is actually pretty impressive.