Raiders Sign Star Canadian Football League Running Back: Report

william stanback

Getty Running back William Stanback.

The Oakland Raiders have brought in their first new face this offseason. According to Farhan Lalji of TSN, the team has signed running back William Stanback to a futures deal. With a number of uncertainties at the running back position heading into 2020, Stanback will get a pretty good shot at sticking around through training camp.

Stanback was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent out of college in 2017. He didn’t make the team and has never played in an NFL game. He eventually made his way to the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League and quickly made a name for himself.

Stanback blew up for the Alouettes in 2019 and rushed for 1,048 yards and scored five touchdowns. This led to him making the CFL All-Star team. At 6’0 and 233 pounds, he fits the role of a bigger running back that the Raiders struggled to find all season. He’s got a long way to make the roster, but Jon Gruden likes a good underdog and if Stanback can prove to be the power back the team needs for short yardage, he could get his first shot at playing an NFL game.

CFL Players Have a Hard Time in NFL

Unfortunately for Stanback, history doesn’t work in his favor as there aren’t many players currently in the NFL who also played in the CFL. The most notable player is Tennessee Titans pass rusher Cameron Wake, who has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL since leaving the CFL for the NFL in 2009. He turned a short but dominant CFL stint to over 100 career sacks and five Pro Bowl appearances during his long NFL career.

There are some players throughout NFL history that got their start in the CFL. Quarterbacks Warren Moon and Joe Theismann are a couple of quarterbacks who had great success in the NFL after stints in the CFL. It doesn’t happen often, but Stanback could be the exception to the rule if he makes the Raiders’ opening day roster.

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Heading into 2020, the Raiders only have Josh Jacobs and Stanback under any sort of contract. Jacobs proved to be an absolute star in his rookie season and he’s clearly the starting running back of the future. However, he’s also proven to have a hard time staying healthy. The Raiders need to make sure they have a strong backup who can pick up the slack if Jacobs misses time.

DeAndre Washington played well in relief of Jacobs in 2019. He didn’t light up the stat sheet, but he did make a few big plays and proved to be a good backup. He’s set to hit free agency and could garner interest from other teams. The Raiders should do what they can to get him to come back for 2020.

Jalen Richard is also no longer under contract and he might be less likely to return. He’s coming off his least effective year as a rusher since joining the Raiders and his receiving numbers took a big dip in 2019. He went from 68 receptions for 607 receiving yards in 2018 to 36 receptions for 323 receiving yards in 2019. It also doesn’t help that he got hurt in the last game of the season versus the Denver Broncos. He’s proven he can be one of the most effective receivers out of the backfield in the NFL, but the Raiders may just not have a need for him in 2020.

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