Dec 15, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills running back CJ Spiller (28) runs past Jacksonville Jaguars safety Winston Guy (32) during the first half of the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
With the Raiders likely cutting ties to Darren McFadden and the strong possibility that Maurice Jones-Drew is never going to be the player he once was, the Raiders will likely need to add at least one running back in free agency as a change-of-pace back or situational back behind projected feature back Latavius Murray. Here are a few names:
CJ Spiller: Formerly of the Bills, CJ Spiller is the type of back who can be a massive difference-maker for an offense, but has lacked the size and durability to be an every-down feature back in the NFL. A 2012 Pro Bowl selection, the speedy Spiller is an open-field menace who has the speed to hit home runs and the moves to gain extra yards on every carry, as well as the ability to be a force as a receiver as well. While he may get better offers from teams looking to make him a feature back, keep an eye on him if he does hit the market.
Rubbing the Rock
Matt Asiata: Asiata has spent his entire pro career as Adrian Peterson’s backup in Minnesota, and for three years played under OC Bill Musgrave. Asiata had to take on a leading role in the Vikings offense last year when Adrian Peterson was suspended, leading the team in rushing. Asiata is a good backup role-playing back: he’s a big guy at 5’11” and 235 pounds, but not particularly fast. He has only two fumbles in 261 career touches, and showed last year that he can be an effective receiver out of the backfield. He’s also a capable pass-blocker. Asiata would be a good supplement to Murray on a team that values big, powerful backs. As a restricted free agent, he may be retained by the Vikings, however, especially now with the Adrian Peterson relationship deteriorating, but if he does hit the market, keep an eye on him.
Roy Helu: Helu is a sturdy, fast, versatile back who has been a role-player for Washington for the past four seasons, and is headed to free agency. While Helu may want to sign somewhere that gives him a better chance to be a feature back, he’d be a nice get for the Raiders because of his physical tools and skill set. A compact back with elite speed and good moves who is an effective receiver, he’s the “poor man’s CJ Spiller” and could be available for less than what Spiller might garner on the market.
Shane Vereen: University of California – Berkeley product Shane Vereen, coming off a Super Bowl win with the Patriots, likely wants to test out the market rather than re-sign with the notoriously stingy Pats. Vereen, an undersized back with decent speed, never caught on as a feature runner for the Patriots, averaging only 5.2 carries per game played. But he emerged last year as a key receiving option for Tom Brady, catching 52 passes for 447 yards and three TD’s over the course of the regular season. He also caught eleven passes for 64 yards in the Super Bowl. Vereen will probably want to make a bit more money than he’s been making, but has great value as a 3rd down back for a team like the Raiders, especially given his experience in the Chip Kelly-inspired no-huddle the Patriots have been running for the past few years.
Next: 2015 FA Watch List: Guard and Center