ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Now that the seeming inevitable has happened -- Latavius Murray signed a free-agent contract, with the Minnesota Vikings -- the Oakland Raiders have to address the gaping hole they have at running back.
Sure, 5-foot-8 Mighty Mites Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are exciting, but they are change-of-pace backs, not every-down runners. When Murray missed two games last season with turf toe, Richard and Washington were not nearly as effective.
When Murray was active, Richard and Washington averaged 2.5 yards more per carry combined in those 14 games (a combined 6.1 yards per carry with Murray active compared to a combined 3.6 yards when Murray was out).
The Raiders need another big-bodied back, someone to replicate the workload the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Murray delivered Oakland last season, when he rushed for 12 touchdowns and 788 yards on 195 carries.
Someone like ...
Hey, Adrian Peterson, late of those same Vikings, is still out there. The 6-2, 217-pounder is apparently more than intrigued by the Raiders offensive line, which was ranked the fourth-best in the NFL by Pro Football Focus and had three of its members named to the Pro Bowl in left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Kelechi Osemele and center Rodney Hudson.
The Raiders should be just as enthralled with Peterson, who would be a good fit financially should he accept an incentive-laden deal. Having missed most of two of the past three seasons due to injury and suspension, Peterson comes with risk, sure, but it is one a team on the rise like the Raiders should be willing to make as the reward would, well, outweigh said risks.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, close friends with Murray, lauded his old teammate for his pass-blocking skills. Murray also had soft hands coming out of the backfield and had success running out of the shotgun and pistol.
Those have never really been seen as strengths for Peterson, who turns 32 next week. But when right, no running back of his generation has run the ball as effectively as the four-time All-Pro and three-time NFL rushing champion who ran for 2,097 yards in 2012.
New Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing would surely like to have this tool at his disposal to improve the NFL’s sixth-best rushing attack, no?
From Peterson’s perspective, sure, he has 11,747 career rushing yards (while averaging 4.9 yards per carry), 97 rushing scores and five receiving touchdowns, but he could also chase a Super Bowl ring with the up-and-coming Raiders a year after missing all but three games with a torn meniscus in his right knee and rushing for just 72 yards on 37 carries.
At least, that should be the pitch now, yes?