Raiders still need a backup running back even after Jalen Richard re-signing

Raiders, Jalen Richard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Raiders, Jalen Richard (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders will still be searching for a backup running back this offseason even after the decision to re-sign third-down back Jalen Richard.

The Las Vegas Raiders have gotten an early start on a number of re-signings just before the offseason really kicks into gear. And on Wednesday it was announced that the team had handed a new deal to fan-favorite running back Jalen Richard.

Richard marks the fourth player that the Raiders have re-signed since the end of the season following the likes of Denzelle Good, Richie Incognito, and Nevin Lawson.

The 26-year-old was originally signed by the team as an undrafted free agent back in 2016 and it didn’t take long for him to find his way into the regular rotation of running backs.

Soon, Richard would become the Raiders’ regular third-down back who excelled as a pass catcher and was impressive picking up the blitz. It was a perfect role for the undersized overachiever that was Richard.

But he’s never been able to break through as a true feature back. And in reality, he’s never exactly been a No. 2 running back either.

In all four of his seasons with the Raiders, Richard has finished third on the team in carries always playing second-fiddle to the running back playing second-fiddle.

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During that time, the Raiders’ primary backup running back has been DeAndre Washington who also entered the league as a rookie back in 2016. Washington briefly lost that role in 2018 but regained it once again when Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch both departed.

In 2019, Washington was the primary ball-carrier spelling rookie sensation Josh Jacobs as the fourth-year Texas Tech product rushed 108 times for 387 yards. Meanwhile, Richard only carried the ball 39 times for just 145 yards.

Still, Richard remains a prominent fixture in the offense. But his role has never been as a No. 2 running back used to spell the top back. Instead, he makes his living on third downs where he thrives as a pass catcher and in pass protection.

That’s what he’ll be getting paid up to $8 million over the next two years to do.

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But in the meantime, the Raiders will still be in search of a backup running back.

With Washington set to hit unrestricted free agency, it appears that the Raiders are willing to move on from the 26-year-old running back. There’s always still Isaiah Crowell who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles but has proven starting experience.

Still, Crowell will also be hitting the open market and it would be a major risk to take a chance on him just one year removed from his devastating injury.

The Raiders will continue their search and that will extend to both free agency in March and the 2020 NFL Draft in April. Between those two events, the hope is that they will find a suitable backup for Jacobs.

After all, Jacobs played through part of last season with a fractured shoulder and the team would be wise to bring a reliable running back in who could relieve Jacobs from time to time.

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But even though Jalen Richard is back, he just isn’t going to be that guy.