Marshawn Lynch is a transcendent talent who would be a huge addition for the Oakland Raiders assuming he would be able to come back and play at the level he did before retiring. Adding an elite runningback to an elite quarterback in Derek Carr would make the Raiders offense one of the most feared in the NFL.
But despite that fact, the addition of Lynch should have no impact on the draft strategy of Reggie McKenzie and company.
If Lynch does decide to come out of retirement and play for the Raiders, it’s only going to be on a one or two year deal. Though most believe he retired early, it’s not like he’s super young. Plus, Lynch has enjoyed his time away from football and is dedicated to his Fam First Foundation. A comeback with the Raiders seems almost like something out of a storybook, but it’s also only a short term solution.
Signing Lynch to go along with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard already creates a pretty crowded backfield but despite the crowd, the Raiders really need to invest a draft pick on a running back this year.
As we’ve heard a lot in the lead up to the draft, this year’s class is extremely talented at a lot of position groups and running back is one of them. The Raiders don’t need to take a back in the first round if they sign Lynch. Hell, even if they don’t sign Lynch, a back in the first round doesn’t seem very likely or smart for Oakland.
But they don’t need to take a back in the first round. This is a year that the Raiders could draft a back in the third or fourth round and still have a good chance of ending up with a starting caliber player.
Sure, taking a back would likely mean the Raiders carry five or six running backs on the roster (assuming no one is stashed on the IR). You have Washington, Richard, Jamize Olawale, Taiwan Jones and then Lynch and a draft pick should that be how things work out. In this scenario, there is a chance that the Raiders part ways with Jones, who is much more of a special teams player than running back.
That isn’t ideal but sometimes that’s how things work out. If the Raiders need to hold onto a glut of backs for a year or two so that they can assure the roster is in a good place for ten plus year’s, that’s a small price to pay.
Think of it as being similar to how Reggie McKenzie writes his contracts. You take a big hit up front so that you can make it easier to control the roster further down the line. Rather than waiting until the Raiders absolutely need a back, they can get a quality player now and insert him into the game plan more and more as they prepare for Lynch’s short run in Silver and Black to come to an end.