The Raiders added Kenyan Drake to their running backs room earlier this offseason, and that could end up costing another Raiders RB their roster spot. As Tashan Reed and Vic Tafur of The Athletic write, five-year veteran Jalen Richard finds himself on the roster bubble heading into training camp.
The 2016 undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss was an immediate contributor, and by his junior season, Richard was leading the team’s running backs in yards from scrimmage (866). However, the organization added Josh Jacobs in the first round of the 2019 draft, and Richard has seen a reduced role over the past few years. This culminated in a 2020 campaign where the 27-year-old finished with a career-low 261 yards from scrimmage.
As the writers note, the Raiders could roster four or five running backs, so it’s not like Richard will lose his spot due to a roster crunch. Rather, Richard is set to make more than $3MM in 2021, and the front office could cut Richard, allocate that cash elsewhere, and rely on lower-price backups. Any of Theo Riddick, Trey Ragas, Garrett Groshek are cheaper alternatives who could push Richard for a roster spot.
Further, Richard made a name for himself thanks to his pass-catching ability, but Drake is expected to serve as the primary receiving back in 2021. Even quarterback Derek Carr discussed the similarities between the two running backs.
“I think Kenyan is a great player,” Carr said. “Super fast, super explosive. I don’t know if we were missing it, but I think he adds a dimension of just another threat. Him and Jalen Richard are similar. Very similar, but Drake [has] a receiver background.”
Richard doesn’t have a clear pathway to playing time, and with a modest hit against the cap, there’s a chance he could find himself playing elsewhere come the start of the regular season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.