Josh Jacobs played lights out in his first year with the Las Vegas Raiders, but based on last season’s sample, the Silver and Black had better get a safety blanket behind the Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist if they don’t want their ground attack to miss a beat. Melvin Gordon can be the cog that keeps their offense going.
In 2019, Jacobs injected life to an anemic Raiders rushing attack that had scored a mere 290 points the previous year. He did it behind an steady offensive line that helped him get 1,150 yards, seven touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. It’s clear the running back became the focal point of the offense and will likely continue to be the case in 2020 and onwards.
However, Jacobs suffered a shoulder injury that bothered him in the second half of the year. In spite of playing through the pain, he ended up being shut down a couple games. Admirable albeit reckless. DeAndre Washington took over the offense and had a serviceable performance, but nothing out of this world. Las Vegas can upgrade the position and should do it through free agency or the draft.
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Signing Derrick Henry may be too steep, so the Raiders could do the next best thing and sign Gordon, who will probably hit free agency after having a contract stand off with the Chargers in 2019.
Gordon won’t be giving the Raiders a one-two punch the way Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen did and that’s ok. The Wisconsin product would join the Raiders as a change-of-pace back. That’s it. He won’t challenge Jacobs and his sole role would be that of a sturdy backup that let Jacobs catch his breath in a game or substitute for him in case he misses an extended period of time. Of course, he wouldn’t be given a blockbuster contract. Before 2018, Gordon wanted Los Angeles to compensate him as one of the top running backs in the NFL. He isn’t and after he botched the negotiations, he should be aware he’s not a featured back nor is he worth retail compensation.
A role (and a contract) similar to what Latavius Murray got with the Vikings in 2017 seems to be fair and within the realm of possibility. Another deal with parameters that are similar to what the Raiders should offer Murray is the one LeSean McCoy signed last year with the Chiefs, which was worth $3 million. Not a bank-breaking deal, but it was reasonable based on his role with the team.
The Raiders have a franchise running back in Josh Jacobs and thus, need to take care of him if they want it that way for years to come. Bringing someone who can spell him from time to time will go a long way towards achieving that. If they decide to take the free agency route, Melvin Gordon can be their man.
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