What was looking like a very thin group of free agent running backs got really interesting today with a couple of big names hitting the market. Most recently it was the Chiefs releasing 9-year veteran running back, Jamaal Charles.
While Charles may not be a fit for the Raiders, he definitely sweetens up the market in which several teams are looking for a back.
Charles is a scat back, of which the Raiders have two good young options already in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Charles has been one of the best in football when he’s been healthy. Over the past seven years, he has made the Pro Bowl in each full season he’s played and been named All Pro twice. The other three seasons, he was lost to injury early on, including the past two seasons. He just turned the dreaded 30 and with his recent injury history make him a risky signing. But that career 5.5 yards per carry will certainly attract a team looking for a complementary back, which would take at least one team out of the mix for the other available backs.
Here are a few who could receive interest to the Raiders:
Eddie Lacy, 26
A standout rookie season in which he ran for 1178 yards with 11 touchdowns had him a Pro Bowler right away. Since then his numbers have steadily gone down each season. He once again surpassed 1000 yards in 2014, rushing for a solid 1139 yards and 9 touchdowns. His yards per carry also raised from 4.1 to 4.6 yards that season.
Though last season, he played in just 5 games, he ran a career high 5.1 yards per carry. Reports say the 5-11, 231-pound back has been struggling with weight issues and was even fined for being over weight. Even still, he is expected to fetch probably a 2-year deal on the market. The Packers are said to be trying hard to keep him. If he hits free agency, he will receive some interest.
Adrian Peterson, 31
Not a big surprise the Vikings today announced they would not be picking up Adrian Peterson’s 2017 option. It would have paid the 31-year-old back around $18 million next season and that just wasn’t going to happen.
From a talent perspective, AP is exactly the type of back the Raiders need. Even approaching 32 years of age. Peterson is used to defying expectations. He was an All Pro just two seasons ago at the age of 30. He also had his best season in 2012, rushing for 2097 yards just four months after having major surgery for a torn ACL. That season he was named league MVP.
One potential sticking point could be his assault conviction for severely beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, leaving open wounds on his body. The incident had him suspended for all but one game in 2014 and as of last year Peterson still insists what he did was not child abuse; essentially saying that he was a victim of some kind of cultural disconnect. That’s definitely not a good sign, but how much bearing it has on his market would be up to the Raiders brass along with any other teams interested in him to decide.
LeGarrette Blount, 30
Coming off a career season, rushing for 1161 yards and 18 touchdowns, Blount hits the market at a good time. The 8-year veteran has always been a bruising back who wears down opposing defenses, picks up big first downs in short yardage, and excels as a goal line back. He is an imposing 6-1, 245 pounder who can find the hole in the line and punish the linebacker or safety once he gets through.
James Starks, 31
There won’t be a big market for Starks. He just turned 31 and has never been more than a complementary back. He will bring Reggie McKenzie fond memories, however. As a rookie in 2010, he was a major factor in the Packers’ run to a Super Bowl title, starting all four playoff games, rushing for 315 yards and a touchdown.