The Las Vegas Raiders’ decision to give backup running back Kenyan Drake $11 million in guaranteed money over the course of the next two seasons is getting a lot of interest around the NFL.
I received several texts from people around the league wondering why the Raiders would make this commitment since they have Josh Jacobs as the starter, along with more pressing needs on the offensive line and on defense. However, inside the building, the feeling is the Raiders got a great piece for the offense.
Let’s look at some aspects of the decision and they are both positive and negative.
Drake will help:
Drake is a solid player as he had 955 rushing yards and 25 receptions in 2020. He gives the offense another dimension and coach Jon Gruden loves having a wide-open playbook. In theory, the offense will be more dangerous with Drake in it.
He is an insurance policy for Jacobs:
Jacobs gets banged up a lot. He has missed four games in the past two seasons combined. If Jacobs can’t go, Drake is a great starting option.
Jacobs likely won’t be happy:
He will likely get less carries and his backup is getting paid more than him. That’s an odd way to treat a Pro Bowl running back. The Raiders are going to have to decide to give Jacobs the fifth-year option next year. This could get interesting. Remember, the team used a first-round pick on Jacobs less than two years ago and are already paying another tailback.
It’s a huge financial commitment:
Backup running backs are a dime a dozen. Devontae Booker cost just over $1 million last year.
Who is blocking for these running backs?
The Raiders traded Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Trent Brown. They have a long way to go to getting a strong line again and instead of spending there, they got another running back in the fold.
Gruden thinks too singularly with each move:
He doesn’t always look at the big picture and that lends to making mistakes. He wants Drake to be his “joker” back, meaning he can move around and help in the passing and running games. Gruden tried that with Lynn Bowden Jr. in the third round last year and it didn’t work. Bowden was traded to the Miami Dolphins before the season even began. So, after using a third-round pick on a player who didn’t work out, Gruden is paying big money to Drake. He’s chasing his own tail. It’s difficult to build a winning program this way.
This is a luxury pick with other needs:
The offensive line and secondary badly need help. Yet, Gruden is paying a backup running back?