The Oakland Raiders were an injury away from possibly celebrating a Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year.
If Derek Carr was healthy, then maybe the Raiders could have taken the throne away from Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Now, with free agency lurking and players either looking for a new home or large handouts, the Raiders are about to find the true meaning of winning.
Raiders running back Latavius Murray is free to roam but is this a smart move by the front office? Murray, for the last two seasons, has carried the Raiders ground attack to the tune of 1800+ yards and 18 touchdowns. The numbers are not Ezekiel Elliott worthy but they are enough to move the chains and keep the defensive line of scrimmage honest. Without Murray, there will be no explosion of Amari Cooper or Carr for the last two years.
So, how important is he and how much is that importance worth to the Raiders?
If the Raiders were to let Murray go there are still other options. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are waiting in the wings and if 2016 is any indication of what fans can expect, then there will be no drop-off. Washington ran for 467 yards on 87 attempts and Richard ran for 491 on 83 attempts. It seems they cannot go wrong, it’s just a question of youth vs experience.
The Minnesota Vikings did the unthinkable when they let All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson walk out the door this offseason. Maybe it was the money or a case of them having a first-row seat to the breakdown of one of the NFL all-time greats? Either way, Peterson is looking for a home.
Could the Raiders and Peterson be a great fit? Peterson and any team is a wonderful fit but are the Raiders willing to play with the big boys and take that one-two year risk? An offense featured around Carr, Peterson Cooper, and Michael Crabtree will be top of the league explosive but is it worth it?
The Raiders have built their team through the draft and while the players are young, they do have a chemistry that is highly spoken about when it comes to winning. Peterson has his upside but there’s also a negative. He will be 32 this year and maybe the wear and tear of 2418 attempts have caught up to him but that’s hard to see. In 2015 he rushed for 1485 yards on 327 attempts and 11 touchdowns.
You can look at Peterson’s injury and ask questions but what has he done the following season when his durability was in doubt? Career wise he’s been extremely healthy. Now, the issue for the Raiders is money. Do you pay Murray a large contract, go young with Washington or take a chance with the great Peterson and hope that chip on his shoulder is big enough to lead the Raiders a Super Bowl?
This is the offseason the Raiders were hoping to have. The one where they are now mentioned in the same sentence as the contenders from last season. The one where a draft pick or free agent pick up could decide their Super Bowl fate. Well, early on the Raider are stuck. Is it the past, present or the future of the backfield?
For a team that has always gone for the home run, the Raiders have not been this close in years. A move for Peterson would be wise even if it’s for one year. What he could do for the confidence of not only the offense but the defense as well is how winning teams are made. If Murray bolts than Peterson is the logical choice.