The NFL just ain’t what it used to be. Once upon a time the position of running back was considered as important to a team’s success as quarterback. After all, if you can’t run the rock you can’t win football games…right?
Not so much anymore. Not when rookie quarterbacks are throwing for 4,000 yards and cornerbacks are flagged for giving wide receivers the stink eye. These days every NFL team keeps at least two running backs in the stable capable of running for over 1,000 yards. These days the running game is an after thought in the NFL’s high stakes game of gaining ratings through protecting quarterbacks and punishing defenses for doing their job.
These days Michael Bush, a man many thought would be among the most sought after free agents, is still awaiting his first contract offer.
Of course it’s nothing personal. Teams haven’t cooled off on Bush having met him. He’s just a running back in a quarterback’s world. None of the top free agent runners have found long term, lucrative deals.
The market on running backs has changed. Teams don’t value the position enough to sink large amounts of cash into one player. Thus Bush is stuck playing the waiting game. Until all of the other areas of pressing need are addressed it doesn’t look likely that guys like Bush will be getting their pay day.
Some have begun to wonder if the barren market will make a Raider reunion possible for Bush. That is in deed very possible but that too will have to wait. The Raiders are slowly addressing their needs. With limited cash and a reportedly healed Darren McFadden in waiting, Bush’s services aren’t a priority.
In reality, Bush wasn’t looking to break the bank. Of course he’d love to get more money. Who wouldn’t? Instead the former Louisville Cardinal was searching out the opportunity to be a starter somewhere.
Given the teams Bush has already met with it would appear even his goal of being a starter is now starting to fade as well.
Last season Michael Bush got his first chance to show what he could do as a feature back for a prolonged period of time. In the early stages his production was on par with any of the top backs I=in the game. As the season went on, Bush began to fade.
Some of that can be attributed to the offensive line. Some can be placed on the nature in which opposing defenses adjusted. Some of that dwindling production has got to fall at the feet of Bush.
But no matter the specifics, the bottom line is all that mattered. Did his late season swoon affect the way Bush is viewed around the league? Is his asking price too high relative to what teams think they’ll get in return? Or is this just a case of bad timing?
Hard to know for sure. One thing that is hard to ignore is that even the free spending Al Davis wasn’t willing to show Bush the money. Davis slapped the highest tender possible on the restricted free agent last year yet made no effort to negotiate a long term deal. Certainly part of that was due to the emergence of McFadden. But you have to wonder what the book is on Bush.
However he’s viewed around the league is irrelevant to this fan. Raider Nation would gladly welcome Bush back in silver and black. He might not be anything more than an insurance policy but he’s the best there is in the game. If the price right, the situation makes sense and the timing is good then chances are we’ll see Bush back in the Bay. But that likely will depend on what Bush is looking for. He won’t find the promise of being a starter in Oakland but, as we’ve seen, that doesn’t mean he won’t get a heavy work load any way.