The Raiders’ No. 1 running back is now a Viking.
Latavius Murray, who led Oakland in rushing this past season while scoring 12 touchdowns -- and had a 1,000-yard season in 2015 -- signed a free-agent deal with Minnesota Wednesday night. His departure now leaves the Raiders with a pair of small, quick 2016 rookies, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, in the backfield and no power back to fill Murray’s role.
There is some speculation the Raiders may sign Adrian Peterson, the free agent from the Vikings who apparently won’t return to Minnesota now that Murray has signed.
Peterson, however, is 31, and running backs – even the best ones – can rapidly go downhill at that age.
Yet as Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com noted Thursday, it seems possible that Oakland could lure Peterson with the prospect of playing on a contender while running behind an elite offensive line with three Pro Bowlers from this past season. Gutierrez suggets the Raiders could afford Peterson by offering him an incentive-laden deal. Plus, Peterson at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, would provide the inside power-running back the Raiders have lost in Murray.
“Having missed most of two of the past three seasons due to injury and suspension, Peterson comes with risk, sure, but it is one a team on the rise like the Raiders should be willing to make as the reward would, well, outweigh said risks,” wrote Gutierrez.
In 2016, Peterson played just three games and carried only 37 times for 72 yards, a 1.9-yard average. But in 2015 he led the NFL in rushing for his third time, with 1,485 yards and a 4.5-yard average.
The Raiders also could look for a cheaper, younger option in the draft, and could score a talent without using their first pick, the 24th overall.
Among the big backs who could be available after the first round are Joe Mixon of Oklahoma (6-foot-1, 226), Samaje Perine of Oklahoma (5-foot-11, 233), D’Onta Foreman of Texas (6-foot, 233), Corey Clement of Wisconsin (5-foot-10, 220) and James Conner of Pittsburgh (6-foot-1, 233).