In 2015, the Raiders found their franchise running back in Latavius Murray.
The third-year pro from Central Florida finally got his opportunity and did the most with it, playing all 16 games, carrying the ball 266 times, rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns and catching 41 passes for 232 yards.
“It’s very special,” Murray told a writer for the team’s website recently, of being able to rush for 1,000 yards. “Obviously it means a lot. It shows how we’ve been able to move the ball, especially this year. I’m pretty excited.”
Murray now is positioned to build on the success he had in his first season as a starter.
But if the Raiders want to improve their ground game in 2016, they’ll need to add at least another running back to provide depth and complement his skills.
Free-agent pickup Roy Helu Jr. was supposed to be a solid No. 2 back in 2015, but he played just nine games because of injuries and rushed for just 39 yards. Taiwan Jones showed flashes, but carried the ball just 16 times for 74 yards. Fullbacks Jamize Olawale and Marcel Reece rushed for 110 and 36 yards, respectively. Helu could bounce back and is signed through 2016, but the Raiders may want to add another veteran into the mix.
So where will the Raiders find that running back?
One report points toward former Houston Texans star Arian Foster.
Chris Simms of Bleacher Report has connected Foster to the Raiders, noting that Foster may soon be released for salary cap reasons. Foster tore his Achilles’ tendon during the 2015 season, will turn 30 before the start of the 2016 season and carries a high cost to the Texans’ salary cap ($8.9 million in 2016).
But, when healthy, Foster has been extremely productive. In just 13 games in 2014 he rushed for 1,246 yards. From 2010-2012, he rushed for 1,616, 1,224 and 1,424 yards and led the NFL in rushing once (2010), carries (2012) and rushing TDs (2010, 2012).
Achilles injuries can be career-ending, but Foster is hoping to play this coming season, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Wilson reports Foster has made “steady progress in his recovery” from surgery in October.
The Bleacher Report’s Simms believes Foster can make a comeback. He projects that a team could bring Foster into its training camp this summer to evaluate him. “He will be the type of guy who gets signed once the season starts,” he said.
Simms believes the Raiders could be a landing spot for Foster, along with New England, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago.
Simms’ reasoning: The Raiders will want a veteran back who can be productive, provide leadership and be an effective backup to Murray.