The running back position was infused with talent last year with the addition of a couple newcomers; Josh Jacobs and Alec Ingold and when they were needed, veterans DeAndre Washington, and even Jalen Richard stepped up.
Unfortunately, out of the six running backs that were under contract for the 2019 season, only a couple are locked in beyond. Fortunately though, those two locked in were the soon-to-be second year players.
Moving up, Jacobs performed well in 13 games he played in. In that time, he racked up 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns on 242 carries, also receiving 20 for 166 yards with just one fumble. His season was cut short by a shoulder injury, but his toughness allowed him to play through it for multiple games, and he is still a strong candidate for offensive rookie of the year. He is the type of running back this team should build around.
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Moving up, Ingold has been a consistent asset in blocking and short yardage situations. Only rushing 10 times for 17 yards, seven of those carries ended up in first downs. On the receiving end, he was targeted six times, caught every one and converted four for first downs and had a touchdown come from one. He is another one I expect to only get better. He and Jacobs have a strong connection so far, and should be a solid backfield tandem for years to come.
Split decision, Washington filled in for Jacobs nicely, rushing 108 times for 387 yards with three touchdowns, 36 passes for 292 more yards and zero fumbles. This was arguably his best season for the Raiders, and on a contract year, I believe he earned an extension and should be moving up. He is an unrestricted free agent and may decide to test the waters elsewhere for a starting spot so that is why I put him as a split decision.
Moving on, Richard was absent most of the season, he came in as a closer some games and shined at times. Other times, he made costly fumbles that Raider Nation has come to expect. He had 39 carries for 145 yards, 36 receptions for 323 yards, with no touchdowns on either and two fumbles. I still like Richard, he came in with a chip on his shoulder as an undrafted player and earned his role but four years later, he has shown ball security issues fumbling 13 times in his career. For that, I would be surprised if he got an extension.
Split decision, Crowell missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn Achilles suffered during OTA’s. He signed a one-year contract and is an unrestricted free agent. Being that he is only 26, I would like to see Raiders bring him back if he recovered properly. If he, or the team don’t pursue an extension, there is not a lot to miss as we never saw what he could do in Silver and Black, and his tenure just becomes another lost cause.
Moving on, Smith was signed late 2019 as an extra due to Josh Jacobs injury. He did not play a snap on offense and was barely used in special teams. They could retain him for depth going forward, especially in camp, but I would be surprised if he was on the active roster Week 1 of next season.
Whether any of the above are resigned or not, I expect a draft and/or a few free agent acquisitions to help take the load off of Jacobs. With the exception of Jacobs and Ingold, we may be looking at a whole new running back corps next season.
Ideally, I would want to see Jacobs, Crowell, Washington, and a rookie at halfback/special teams, with Ingold holding the fullback spot down. If Crowell and/or Washington don’t re-sign, look for at the least, one free agent vet to come in and make a nice 1-2 punch with Jacobs. Still, I would expect a rookie coming in via draft, and maybe a couple more undrafted talents to fight through camp.
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