Jalen Richard became quite the pass-catching running back in 2018, as the third-year back was a key weapon for the Oakland Raiders offense.
The Oakland Raiders signed Jalen Richard as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi back in 2016, and he has not missed a single game since. While not counted on to be a feature back, Richard can hurt a defense in many ways, but has struggled to hold onto the ball on a consistent basis.
Still, he was a big part of what the Raiders did on offense this past season, and the team has a big decision to make this offseason in terms of bringing him back. He is a good asset to have on your offense, and he showed in 2018 that good things happen when he has the ball in his hands.
Here is our season grade for the third-year running back.
Coming into the preseason, Richard was to battle it out with DeAndre Washington for that No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Marshawn Lynch was back for year two in the Silver and Black, and Doug Martin was brought into be his backup.
Richard’s role was to be a nice third-down back, with the ability to make plays in the passing, and running game. He accomplished one of those in 2018, becoming one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL.
When it came to the passing game, Richard was one of the more consistent weapons for quarterback Derek Carr, who had an impressive season, statistically in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded him out as the eighth-best pass-catching running back in football, as he hauled in a career-high 68 receptions.
Overall, he averaged over seven yards per touch when you combine his work on the ground, and through the air, and found the end zone once. He was an asset for this Raiders team in 2018, and head coach Jon Gruden was quoted late in the season as saying that Richard could be the “MVP of the team.”
The Raiders have a lot of questions to answer in terms of the running back group this offseason, as they have pending free agents, and an undrafted rookie in Chris Warren who led the NFL in rushing during the preseason. They also have a ton of cap space, as well as draft capital, so this position group could look a lot different when the season kicks off in September.
Lynch, Martin, and Richard are all free agents this upcoming offseason, with Richard being the youngest of the bunch by far. He offers so much in terms of what he can do with the football in his hands, and while he is never going to be a feature back on this Raiders team, he does serve a very important role for Gruden’s offense and should be brought back.