Entering the 2019 NFL season, it appeared not much was expected from DeAndre Washington. Jalen Richard was poised for an impressive breakout year, and the Raiders had just spent a first-round pick on Alabama running back Josh Jacobs.
Instead of playing third fiddle behind Jacobs and Richard, Washington secured himself the backup spot behind Jacobs. Washington would use his newfound playing time to set career highs in receiving yards and rushing touchdowns. In the final two games of the 2019 season, Washington recorded 162 rush yards on 40 attempts while Jacobs was battling through injuries.
Washington came into the 2019 season averaging one fumble per 16 games but was able to end the streak and went the entire season without fumbling once. The fourth-year back was also able to cement himself in the Raiders’ passing game, recording 36 receptions on 41 targets, leading to a career-high 292 receiving yards.
As the draft nears closer, fans and coaches alike begin evaluating each position group and running back is no exception. Josh Jacobs is the clear #1 option going forward. However, with Washington and Richard both on expiring rookie deals, the team will have some decisions to make.
While both backup running backs have shown impressive skills and knowledge of the offense, the question becomes focused on value. Is it worth it to pay a player (or both) while there are some draftable rookies capable of similar output?
Keep or Kick
For DeAndre Washington, the answer is yes. Washington has proven himself as not only a backup, but as a capable starter in the rare event, Jacobs is unable to go. The rookie contract is a time for evaluation; Washington has given the team four years of data, and with the data provided, it would seem wrong to let him walk.
But the Raiders have made some interesting moves in their backfield. As mentioned, Richard was trending towards 2019 being his first 1000-yard season, but quickly found himself in the third-string role. With Richard and Washington being such similar backs, it could be another year of change with the potential of Richard sliding back into the #2 spot, should the team resign both of them.
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have an interesting way of doing things, but as the team trends toward filling out and becoming a complete team, the front office has to be pleased with Washington’s production. While Richard had an impressive 2018 season, Washington taking over in 2019 should give fans all the insight they need.
If it is affordable and reasonable to keep both, there will be no complaints here. But if a choice must be made between the two, all signs point to Washington.