There are holes all over the place for the Raiders will to fill this offseason. Help is needed on every level of the defense and Derek Carr needs major upgrades to his skill position players.
Focusing on the offense, with the exception of the line and quarterback (some will argue that) the Raiders need to address running back, wide receiver, and, if Jared Cook leaves in free agency, tight end as well.
With the running back position there are several directions they could go. Where Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock decide to go is for us for speculation. Whichever option they decide to go with it’s been far too long since the Raiders have had a dominant run game.
What’s on the roster
Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin were the team’s leading rushers last season and both are set to become free agents. Jon Gruden stated last week he would welcome a Marshawn Lynch return. Even if that was to happen, he will turn 33 in April and is coming off his second major groin surgery. He can’t be expect to be the bell cow back at this point.
Doug Martin who filled in nicely for Lynch is also an option. In January, Martin turned the dreaded age of 30 for running backs. In Lynch’s absence, Martin gained 723 yards on 172 attempts.
If Martin is willing to take a team friendly short-term deal, it seems it would make sense to bring him back. Martin is not the long-term option at running back.
That leaves Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and Chris Warren III. Gruden is high on Richard after catching 69 passes for 607 yards last season so it seems likely he will be back in the mix.
Warren was a fan favorite after his impressive preseason, the Raiders didn’t have room for him on the active roster so decided to stash him on the injured reserve after knee surgery in September. He should be given every opportunity to make the team in 2019.
DeAndre Washington missed a ton of time in the training camp with a knee injury. He was never able to establish a role for himself and could be the odd man out.
The free agent running back class is not loaded with talent but there are a few names that the Raiders would be wise to engage in discussions with.
The cream of the crop is Le’Veon Bell. Bell is a top five back in the league, a player of his talent would take a huge load of the shoulders of Derek Carr. Bell turns 27 in February, is in the prime of his career, and coming off a season where he did not play a single snap. Raider Nation is salivating at the thought of Bell in Silver & Black.
If the Raiders would like to add the services of Le’Veon Bell they better be prepared to back up the Brinks truck. Bell is looking to get paid on a longterm deal. The Raiders have the cash available but the question is whether they want to invest $15-17 million dollars on a running back.
Keep in mind the Steelers have the ability to use the transition tag on Bell, meaning teams can offer Bell a long term deal and the Steelers would have five days to match the offer or let him walk. The transition tag period is from February 19th to March 5th.
The consolation prizes would include Tevin Coleman (25), Mark Ingram (29), T.J. Yeldon (25), Mike Davis (25), Alex Collins (24), and Peyton Barber (24). Coleman, Ingram, and Yeldon have the skill set that Gruden looks for in his running backs but they should have plenty of suitors which means a bidding war that the Raiders might not be interested in.
The trendy pick linked to the Raiders in many expert mock drafts is Josh Jacobs from Alabama. ESPN’s Todd McShay is the latest to mock Jacobs to the Raiders at pick 27.
Jacobs was never really “the guy” for Alabama, in three years he totaled only 251 carries. However, this year, down the stretch he was Alabama’s go to guy (ahead of Damien Harris) even winning most valuable player in the SEC championship game.
Josh Jacobs just loves to run guys, doesn’t he? Dude is a damn tank. pic.twitter.com/bvdacvuUWn— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 7, 2019
Jacobs draft stock is rising. A good combine performance will only continue his rise up draft boards. Getting a back like Jacobs with one of their later first round picks could be good value for the Raiders.
Should the Raiders decide to add a back later in the draft some names to keep an eye on would be David Montgomery (Iowa State), Damien Harris (Alabama), Devin Singletary (FAU), Darrell Henderson (Memphis), and Mike Weber (Ohio State).
With all these options and the top two Raiders backs’ contracts up, we could be looking at a very different offensive backfield in a few months.