The preseason for the Las Vegas Raiders hasn’t brought too many revelations yet but it has been illuminating for the team’s running back competition. The team opened a lot of eyes during the first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars when Josh Jacobs started and played in two drives. Many thoughts that he could be on the trade block.
Head coach Josh McDaniels quickly shut down those rumors and Jacobs didn’t suit up for the second preseason game. That was a good sign for the former first-round pick but the same can’t be said for Kenyan Drake. He’s easily the team’s most expensive running back as he carries an $8 million dead cap hit this season. Drake has been a successful running back in his career but is coming off a broken ankle.
The previous Raiders regime paid Drake so McDaniels and company don’t have any allegiance to him. Things aren’t looking good for the veteran. The Atheltic’s Vic Tafur pointed out that fellow veteran running back Ameer Abdullah didn’t take a snap against the Minnesota Vikings in the second preseason game while Drake got 17.
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Are Raiders Leaning Towards Cutting Drake?
What Tafur is pointing out should be quite concerning for Drake. Jacobs and rookie Zamir White aren’t going anywhere. There’s also Brandon Bolden, who has played under McDaniels for years. Teams typically only carry three running backs on the active roster but it appears the Raiders will keep four. Abdullah and Drake must be competing for the final spot.
Based on the preseason so far, it appears that Abdullah is the favorite. What works in Drake’s favor is that $8 million dead cap hit. That makes it difficult to cut him outright. It’s still early in training camp so a need could open up at running back for a contending team. The Raiders could reach out for a possible Drake trade. Regardless, it looks like the veteran has an uphill battle facing him if he hopes to be in Las Vegas this season.
Abdullah Compared to James White
There wasn’t much talk about the Abdullah signing when it happened. He’s been a solid veteran in the NFL for years but the Raiders were pretty loaded at running back. It appears that Abdullah has quickly been making his presence felt. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the veteran compares favorably to some of McDaniels’ favorite weapons over the years:
A surprise revelation through camp: journeyman RB Ameer Abdullah. The eighth-year pro has developed good chemistry with Derek Carr and looks to have the inside track in becoming the team’s passing-down back—an important role in Josh McDaniels’s offense that’s been filled by Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and James White over the year. The Raiders have outstanding depth in the backfield, with Josh Jacobs backed up by Zamir White and Kenyan Drake, and that could give the team some trade flexibility later in the month.
A running back who can catch was a staple of the Patriots dynasty. If McDaniels sees Abdullah as the next James White in his system, he’s going to forget about the dead money owed to Drake.
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