Oakland Raiders should plan for the future, take a look at a veteran RB

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: C.J. Anderson #20 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: C.J. Anderson #20 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders are in the midst of a lost season, so why not plan for the future by kicking the tires on a veteran running back?

If you’re Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders, playing for pride is great and all, but you also need to be practical about things. When you have nothing left to play for – as the Raiders clearly don’t – about the most prudent thing you can do is start looking ahead and planning for the future.

Mired in misery at 1-8 – and with the very real possibility of not winning another game in 2018 looming over their heads like the Sword of Damocles, about all the Raiders can do is start thinking about 2019 and finding a way out of the pit they’ve buried themselves in.

So, as Gruden continues to burn it all to the ground so he can rebuild it in his image, it leaves a lot of areas that need to be addressed if we look ahead.

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Obviously, the most glaring needs will be on the defensive side of the ball where the team hasn’t had a decent linebackers group since fire was invented and a secondary that continues to get spanked more often than the clientele down at Mistress Helga’s House of Pain.

However, that’s not to say there won’t be some glaring needs on the offensive side of the ball as well. Obviously, the receiving corps is going to look radically different next year with Amari Cooper gone, Martavis Bryant likely not coming back, and Jordy Nelson‘s status – uncertain at the moment.

But, with Marshawn Lynch likely also not coming back next season, Doug Martin only playing on a one-year deal, and Jalen Richard scheduled to be a restricted free agent, that leaves only DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III under contract in 2019.

Now, Warren is an interesting case because before he was put on injured reserve, he showed some real flashes of being a very solid back in Gruden’s offensive system. He definitely has the size Gruden prefers in his backs and ran well when he had the chance. More than that though, Warren showed good speed, elusiveness, and power.

Gruden very well may be eyeballing Warren for the featured role in the offense next season, and judging by the small sample we have, he definitely might be an option worth exploring.

It would seem likely that the team will attempt to keep Richard, who has proven himself to be a valuable asset as well. But you can’t think Martin has done enough this season to warrant a second deal, and given the lack of use when healthy, Washington doesn’t seem all that long for the Silver and Black world either.

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But, with a running backs group that will obviously be depleted next season, why not start planning for the future now?

The Carolina Panthers recently released C.J. Anderson – the former Broncos running back who had some pretty decent games against the Raiders over his five seasons in the Mile High City.

And once he clears waivers, he’ll be free to sign with anybody. It might not be a bad idea for Gruden to bring him in, if for no other reason, than just to have a look with an eye toward the future.

After five productive seasons in a crowded Denver Broncos backfield, Anderson signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers – who just released him as they’ve made Christian McCaffrey their undisputed lead back.

Behind McCaffrey and a quarterback as talented – and prone to tuck the ball and run – as Cam Newton, Anderson never had much of a chance and wasn’t a great fit for the team. They released him to give him more opportunities to catch on elsewhere.

Though he’s a six-year veteran, Anderson still has a lot of tread left on his tires. The crowded backfield in Denver limited his touches. The most he had came last season with 245 – and he turned those 245 carries into 1,007 yards and three touchdowns.

Anderson has 717 total career carries for 3,155 yards – an average of 4.4 yards per carry – and 20 touchdowns. He’s also got another five touchdowns and 883 yards on 104 career receptions.

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At five-foot-eight, 225 pounds, he’s got a strong build, a powerful lower body, good speed, elusiveness, and runs with surprising power. And unlike Martin, he’s been pretty consistent over the course of his career, not fluctuating wildly between 1,400 yards one season, and failing to crack 500 yards the next.

At this point in the year, when there is absolutely nothing left to play for, Gruden and the Raiders can afford to experiment and plug different guys into places, just to see what happens.

So, why not bring in a back who’s got a relatively solid track record like Anderson to help shoulder the burden of carrying the load the run game presents. It’s more than clear that the Raiders need some running back depth for the rest of the year – so why not Anderson?

There really is zero downside into bringing him in to help finish out this dreadful 2018 campaign. And he might just show that he can still be a productive back and help give Oakland’s run game a much needed shot in the arm.

Nine games into the 2018 campaign, we’re already at the evaluation point of the year. Coaches will need to watch and evaluate their players, determining who might help next season and who just needs to go.

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Maybe he works out, maybe he doesn’t. But, as they look toward 2019, they have a lot of important questions that need answers. So why not give him a seven game audition to see if he can fill a role? Where is the downside?

C.J. Anderson is potentially a guy who can help – a guy they’d be smart to at least have a look at.