The offseason can be a time of uncertainty for many teams. Players and coaches alike are constantly trading places and teams can enter into the next season looking completely different. The Oakland Raiders are no strangers to change and now face uncertainty from their backfield.
Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin were the running backs with the most usage last season. However, both players remain undecided on their futures with the team. Lynch logged 376 yards in six games before succumbing to a groin injury. Martin stepped up in his absence and recorded 723 rushing yards and 116 receiving yards throughout the season.
Lynch’s biggest game came in an overtime win against the Cleveland Browns. Lynch rushed for 130 yards and hauled in a receiving touchdown. He was especially bright in this game as he did his best to overshadow Nick Chubb’s breakout 105-yard performance.
Still Out There
Martin was a steady producer all season, but really exploded towards the end of the season where he recorded 42 touches and 207 yards in the final two games of the season. This push would have been ideal, had the team been in contention for a playoff spot.
Jon Gruden mentioned his desire to bring both players back to the team, but both players are exhibiting radio silence and not much has been heard regarding their future.
Regardless of what happens in free agency and the draft, the team still stands prepared for the future. Jalen Richard led the running backs in yards per carry (4.7) last year and has proven himself as an exceptional pass-catching back and ranked third on the team in receiving yards (607).
However, it appears the Raiders are not quite ready for Richard to take over the starting job, as the team has also signed Isaiah Crowell. Crowell had an unusual season with the Jets and unlike Doug Martin, had a fluctuating snap count come the end of the season, but recorded 36 touches in his final 4 weeks for 152 yards. Crowell’s biggest games came against Denver and Detroit, in which he rushed for 219 and 102 yards, respectively.
Crowell has shown his ability to catch fire when running the ball, but also has talents catching it. The former Jets’ running back caught 75% (21-28) of his targets in 2018, which could be quite fitting for the play style the Raiders adopted in 2018.
In the best case-scenario, the Raiders will sign Lynch to join Crowell, Richard, Washington, and Warren III in a still-crowded backfield. However, if things go south, Crowell could be looking at a return to a lead role. A role he last experienced during the Browns’ 1-31 stretch of games. During the stretch, Crowell averaged 905 yards per season and is still waiting for his first 1000-yard season, but with the offensive line, upgrade Crowell will be playing with, 2019 could be Crowell’s year.