Players Raiders should target to shore up running game

Jalen Richard is playing for the Las Vegas Raiders next season, but who else will be backing him and Josh Jacobs up?

NFL free agency is approaching and we’re getting a clearer picture of which players might find themselves looking for employment. The Raiders still need depth at running back, which is one of the most taxing positions to play. Jacobs and Richard will be back, but general manager Mike Mayock’s job isn’t done yet.

Let’s look at some possible scenarios for the Raiders with NFL free agency around the corner.

DeAndre Washington Argument

Washington has been a solid backup for the Raiders and when needed, he’s stepped it up. Last year, he took 108 snaps, resulting in 387 rushing yards and three touchdowns while also starting three games.

Vic Tafur of The Athletic recently weighed in on the Washington question.

“…A popular question is whether the Raiders chose Richard over Washington. Another is wondering if they’ll bring back Washington, as well.Well, Richard had the edge as a third-down back because he runs better routes and is a better pass blocker than Washington. Gruden does like Washington and the coaching staff and front office were impressed with how hard he ran in his three starts in place of an injured Jacobs. But the feeling is that it would be hard to re-sign both running backs and, while not ruling it out, the Raiders would need to see the market value for Washington before trying to bring him back…”

Clearly Gruden and the rest of the Raiders brass thinks highly of Washington as a player but, perhaps they feel they’d be better suited bringing a different kind of back. Specifically, a bigger one as Tafur added.

“…They could also use a bigger back, as both Richard and Washington are 5-foot-8, and adding one in free agency or the draft would officially signal a new chapter for Washington elsewhere…”

Currently of the opinion that the Raiders shouldn’t use a draft pick on a running back, free agency offers some amusing options.

Related: Raiders WRs rehash: Tim Brown’s thoughts and Antonio Brown sightings

What free agents are worth the money?

The Raiders aren’t about to spend big money on a tailback when they have a franchise back in Jacobs. However, there’s two players, who could soon be free agents, that are worth mentioning. The Patriots might part ways with Rex Burkhead and the Texans will certainly be saying goodbye to Carlos Hyde.

Burkhead’s stats are eye-popping and warrants a look, his flexibility as a dual threat would benefit the Raiders greatly. In his time in New England, he had 71 receptions for 664 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Size-wise, he might not be all that bigger than Washington but could prove to be an upgrade.

Hyde would definitely be the “sexier” pick of the two mostly due to his numbers last season, when he started 14 of 16 games, and rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Spotrac estimates he’ll have a value of $3 million per season, which you wouldn’t give to a third running back but perhaps then, an affordable player behind Jacobs. Think of it as an insurance policy as we saw what Hyde can do when healthy and behind a good offensive line.

Let’s Not Forget About Isaiah Crowell

It’s also possible the Raiders give a shot to Crowell. An overlooked option since he hasn’t played in a while. Still though, he showed his talents when he was healthy. His first four years in the league with the Browns were promising and totaled 3,118 rushing yards off 737 carries while starting 45 games. Oh! He also caught 96 passes for 770 yards. While injuries derailed his Raiders debut and in his sole season with the Jets, he looked somewhat pedestrian with 685 rushing yards on 143 carriers, he still managed to score six touchdowns.

If Crowell does in deed have something left in the tank, then, maybe the Raiders already someone to shore up the running game without needing to waste draft capital.

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