The Raiders are at a bit of a crossroads at the running back position. For the first time in six years, Darren McFadden won't be heading into the season as the projected starter. He is a free agent and will not be brought back.
Even though with McFadden on the team, they always needed a running back to take his place and he rarely proved worthy of his status, he was always given the benefit of the doubt as a top draft pick and handed the job anyway.
The latest running back to outperform McFadden is Rashad Jennings who is also set to become a free agent. First and foremost the team must attempt to re-sign him. If they can't do that, the team absolutely must make a move in free agency to replace him. But even if he returns, they need to consider bringing in another back to complement him. Currently the only possibility for that is last year's sixth round pick, Latavius Murray and there's no telling if he can be that guy or if he can even stay healthy.
With that in mind, here are the most likely options out there for the Raiders at running back
Ben Tate 26 - People like to talk about Tate as being a zone blocking running back. But don't mistake the mere fact that he has been on a team which runs the zone as any kind of proof of that. It isn't like he was an undrafted free agent who came out of nowhere and thrived in the zone scheme ala the Texans starter, Arian Foster. Tate was a second round pick. In fact, a change to the power scheme may be just what he needs to break out.
James Starks 28 - Starks is one of the late round gems discovered while Reggie McKenzie was in the Packers' front office. And we know how McKenzie covets his former players. Starks is most known for breaking out as a rookie for the Packers in their Super Bowl run in 2010. He ran for 315 yards that postseason in the absence of starters Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson.
Maurice Jones-Drew 29 - This would be a long overdue homecoming for MJD, who is a Bay Area native and former De LaSalle High School star. The only catch here might be Rashad Jennings who - should the Raiders re-sign him - may not be too keen on playing second fiddle to MJD again after doing it for his first four years in the league with Jaguars. Though if they could be a running back by committee, that would be worth exploring.
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