Wednesday morning, we got the terrible news that Isaiah Crowell has been lost for the season to a torn Achilles he suffered in offseason workouts. Even with the drafting of Josh Jacobs in the first round of the draft last week, the Raiders still had big plans for Crowell as a complement to Jacobs.
Crowell has 51 career starts in five NFL seasons and only became available as a free agent because the Jets landed Le’Veon Bell, so he was a good get for the Raiders. Now they must replace him. No matter how you feel about Jalen Richard or Chris Warren III or even DeAndre Washington, the Raiders need to bring in proven talent at the position.
There are a few options to do that. Here are the top ones.
Marshawn Lynch (33)
I don’t care that he’s 33 or that there were reports that he could be retiring. Until we hear it from Beastmode himself, it’s not real. Even his mom said as much. The Raiders continued to say they were leaving the door open for Marshawn to return and that it depended on how the draft went. So, for a few days there it was settled. The Crowell injury could change things. Marshawn averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season, showing no signs of slowing down right up until his groin injury in week six that ended his season.
Jay Ajayi (25)
A torn ACL ended Ajayi’s season in 2018 and it could be the reason why he is still unsigned. If he wasn’t back to full strength when free agency hit in March, he would wait until he was before exploring teams to sign with. Teams move to fill their roster spots in free agency and the draft, and suddenly there are no chairs left when the music stops. It’s now been 8 months since his injury and with this opportunity opening up, it could be the right time and place for him.
The 25-year-old is a proven NFL back. His 2016-17 seasons were exactly what you want from a back. The Eagles traded for him midway through the 2017 season and in seven games, he ran for 408 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry and he added 217 yards on 58 rushes in the playoffs as the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl. The previous season with the Dolphins, Ajayi ran for 1272 yards and 8 touchdowns to make the Pro Bowl. Four NFL seasons, a Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl ring, and still just 25 years old? Hello.
Doug Martin (30)
You could certainly do worse than inviting the Douggernaut back. When Marshawn went down last season, Martin stepped in and ran well, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and proving he was a better back than his previous two seasons in Tampa would indicate. He carries the added bonus of being familiar with the Raiders’ offense, so he could step right in without missing a beat. Having him out there waiting to be signed is a nice luxury at this point for the Raiders.
Alex Collins (24)
Collins was a 5th round pick by the Seahawks in 2016 to run in Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme. After one season in Seattle, he would be cut just prior to the start of his second season. The Ravens signed him to their practice squad, called him up to the active roster for the second game of the season and Collins ran for nearly 1000 yards (973) while averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
His numbers dipped last season to 3.6 yards per carry, but in ten starts he had 7 touchdowns and 411 yards rushing before landing on injured reserve with a foot injury. He was waived on March 1 and remains unsigned.
Bilal Powell (30)
Powell was lost in week seven of last season with a neck injury. Initially it was deemed potentially career-ending, but those assumptions were quickly walked back after more testing. Ultimately, the diagnosis was a bulging disc with a timetable of 6-9 months. We are at 7 months now. The 5-10, 204-pound back has been a mainstay with the Jets over the past eight years since they made him their pick in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry over his career and 4.7 yards per carry over the past five seasons. They may have had him back if not for the injury uncertainty and the signing of Le’Veon Bell.
Others: LeGarrette Blount, Corey Grant, Fozzy Whitacker, Alfred Morris, Stevan Ridley