The Oakland Raiders are going into the offseason with a hole at the running back position, but fortunately, they also possess over $60 million in cap space, and a lot of draft picks. Let’s take a look at the best options available this offseason.
Free Agent Targets for the Raiders
Projected AAV- $14.5 million
Best Fits- Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders
You seldom see a rebuilding team commit this kind of money to a running back, but if there’s anything Gruden has shown us in his first year, it’s that he’s comfortable going against the norm. To put it simply, the Raiders need a running back, Le’Veon Bell is one of the best in the league, and the team will be able to afford him.
Projected AAV- $1.6 million
Best Fits- New York Jets, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers
Hey old friend! One of the key pieces from the Raiders’ best season this decade is back on the market. Murray served as the secondary back in Minnesota last year behind Dalvin Cook, where he rushed for 578 yards on 140 attempts, good for 4.1 yards per attempt. He’s 28, but because he served as a secondary back the last two years, he might have more in the tank than you’d think. On a cheap 1-2 year deal, this could be an underrated acquisition.
Projected AAV- $4.4 million
Best Fits- Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders
Ingram will undoubtedly be one of the most coveted options at RB this offseason. While missing four games due to a suspension, he still rushed for 645 yards, while also racking up 170 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He’s thrived in a backfield-by-committee the last two years with Alvin Kamara, so like Murray, he won’t have the same wear and tear of a typical 29-year-old running back. With his projected value at just $4.4 million, he would make a lot of sense on a two-year deal.
Damien Harris, Alabama
Age- 21 (will turn 22 in February)
Standing in at 5-foot-10, weighing 214 pounds, Damien Harris is universally touted as the best running back in this year’s draft. Scouts around the league compare him to Doug Martin, as Harris possesses elite vision, strength, and balance after contact. Harris is great at extending plays, something Raider fans saw Martin do a few times this year. Alabama hasn’t used him as a receiver so we can’t tell how he would fare in that role, but considering his skill set, he should be fine.
Bryce Love, Stanford
Bryce Love is a season removed from one of the most insane seasons a college running back has ever had. In 2017, Love rushed for 2,119 yards and 19 touchdowns, on a very impressive 8.1 yards per carry. The craziest part was Love broke an FBS record with 11 different 50-yard runs. Love was banged up for much of the 2018 season, with his totals dropping to 655 rushing yards and six touchdowns. With a big drop off like that, his stock fell, so the Raiders would likely be able to grab him without using one of their first round picks. One of Love’s few weaknesses is his durability, he’s been banged up a lot these last two seasons, so it’s definitely a concern for teams who are looking at him as a potential workhorse running back. With that said, he’s still arguably the most explosive player in this draft.
Henderson is a bit small, coming in at 5-foot-9, and weighing 200 pounds. However, he’s got some wheels. There will be concerns and debates about his size, but there have been players his size that have plenty of success at the NFL level. Henderson is quietly having one of the best statistical seasons in recent memory. He’s running past defenses as well as his competition in this draft, posting 1,909 yards this year, with 22 touchdowns, averaging 146 yards a game. Henderson would have a lot more hype around him if he went to a bigger school, but Raider Nation should be ecstatic if the Silver and Black could grab him on draft day.
There are a few options on the trade market, where a player like Leonard Fournette could make sense. Fournette seems to have fallen into Tom Coughlin’s doghouse down in Jacksonville, but a change of scenery could be just what he needs. His value is at an all-time low right now so this would be a good time for the Raiders to get a very talented running back for cheap.
With lots of money to spend and a boatload of picks, the opportunity is there for the Raiders to snag a big-time running back. Let’s see what Gruden has up his sleeve!