Despite the fact that Jon Gruden is known as a coach who likes to run the ball, the Las Vegas Raiders have been pretty average in the run game over the past two seasons. In 2019, the team was 13th in the NFL in average yards per game and dropped to 14th in 2020. Josh Jacobs was excellent in 2019 and solid in 2020, so the problem isn’t at the top. That said, Gruden is going to have to shake some things up if he wants to get his rushing offense to the top 10 in the NFL.
One way to do that is to find a strong complement to Jacobs. Devontae Booker rushed for 423 yards in 2020 as a backup, which is solid. However, his skill set is pretty similar to Jacobs’. This offseason, the Raiders could look to add a player who is more complementary. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report predicts that the team will sign Le’Veon Bell to a one-year deal:
Bell can find a new home with the Las Vegas Raiders, who will probably allow backup running back Devontae Booker to test the open market. Head coach Jon Gruden has signed notable veteran tailbacks in all three of his most recent offseasons with the team: Doug Martin (2018), Isaiah Crowell (2019) and Booker (2020).
Vegas, which is $18.8 million over the cap, can easily clear salary space to make room for a Bell on a modest deal.
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Raiders Have Been Linked to Bell Before
Bell is coming off his weakest season as a pro, but it’s possible he can recapture the magic that made him an All-Pro in 2014 and 2017. He’ll be 29 when the upcoming season starts, but his legs should be relatively fresh. He took 2018 off due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers and only had 82 rush attempts last season.
When Bell was cut by the New York Jets during last season, the Raiders were reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring him. He ended up signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, but it’s hard to see him going back there. It’s also worth noting that Gruden is a big fan of Bell and probably wouldn’t mind having him on his team.
Other RB Targets for Raiders
If the Raiders let Booker walk and miss out on Bell, there are a lot of other options available to the team. Mark Ingram would be a solid pickup. He’s probably no longer a Pro Bowl-level player, but his experience and leadership would be valuable for Jacobs.
Leonard Fournette is also set to hit free agency after winning a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay. He’d be interesting because he’s a very different type of player from Jacobs. He’s a big back that would be good to have in short-yardage situations.
Lastly, don’t count out Adrian Peterson. He’s on the wrong side of a Hall of Famer career, but he’s still got some juice left in the tank. He’s rushed for 1,502 over the past two seasons and has only missed one game in the past three seasons. After infamously drafting JaMarcus Russell over Peterson and Calvin Johsnon in 2007, the Raiders can finally right their wrong.