Oakland Raiders: Reggie McKenzie Won’t Chase Big-Name Running Backs

Dec 18, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Colts defeated the Vikings 34-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray will test the free-agent market. Will the front office replace him with another veteran?

According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, the Oakland Raiders may look into acquiring running back Adrian Peterson. In the same report, Cole also said the team likes their young running backs and plans to give impending free-agent running back Latavius Murray a chance to return.

Cole’s 26-second bit comes down to cash money. Earlier in the offseason, Murray discussed a return to Oakland on Sirius XM NFL Radio, expressing a desire to continue growing with the Raiders. On Mad Dog Sports Radio, quarterback Derek Carr revealed his personal message to the 27-year-old running back:

On the other side of the coin, several teams will likely toss stacks of cash in Murray’s direction. After a Pro Bowl season followed by a 12-touchdown year, it’s clear he’s a capable featured running back in a two-man backfield. In Oakland, he split carries three ways, which significantly lowers his value with the home team.

In a week or two, Murray will either choose his Raiders ties on a modest contract or take the green elsewhere. Regardless of his decision, don’t bet on general manager Reggie McKenzie signing a 31-year-old running back who saw a sharp decline in yards-per-carry average over the past two seasons, per Arif Hasan of the Daily Norseman:

Before salivating over Peterson in a black and silver uniform, ask yourself, when’s the last time McKenzie signed a big-name running back at the market price? The Raiders’ No. 6 ground attack consisted of a sixth-round pick, fifth-round selection and an undrafted free agent. Why should Oakland pay for a 31-year-old ball-carrier who’s going to command a decent salary even for the short term?

The same goes for free-agent running back Jamaal Charles, who’s 30 years old and has played in just 23 out of 48 games over the past three seasons. The upcoming draft features a deep running back class with fresh legs on rookie deals. McKenzie has to set cash aside for contract extensions to lock up edge-rusher Khalil Mack and Carr for years to come. Don’t expect the front office to chase after fading stars on the decline.

Cole’s report will grab headlines, because it places Peterson and the Raiders in the same breath. But the marriage between the two sides doesn’t make sense for the potential suitor. If Murray walks, the Raiders need a complementary back, who can handle short-yardage situations. With a reduced workload, Peterson still has enough left in the tank to move the chains. However, the Raiders don’t have to pay as much for a rookie who’s capable of fulfilling the same role.

Peterson may not be washed up after 10 seasons. He’s probably good for another season or two. Nonetheless, the Raiders no longer need to pay aging stars for a few extra victories. They’re coming off a 12-4 season with their young nucleus already in place. There’s no reason to chase a flashy name for pizazz.

On Friday, prospects such as Samaje Perine, James Conner and Jeremy McNichols will show their stuff at the NFL Scouting Combine. All of them have the potential to complete the Raiders backfield with a smash-and-dash run style, and it’ll cost significantly less than Charles’ or Peterson’s salary.

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