Cedric Benson has been patiently sitting by the phone this offseason while waiting for a cold running back market to heat up.
Over the last week, though, rumors have begun to spread that the Oakland Raiders are kicking the tires on the free agent running back. Although well past his prime, the former Cincinnati Bengals workhorse could provide some depth for the Raiders’ running game. The only question: do they really need Benson?
The entire NFL knows by now that the Raiders are set at running back when starter Darren McFadden is at full health. The former first round pick had a breakout season in 2010, rushing for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing three games. He regressed a little in 2011, but the blame again fell on his inability to stay on the field.
When at 100 percent, McFadden makes the Raiders’ ground attack among the most feared in the NFL. When he’s not healthy, though, is when problems might arise.
Currently battling for the backup spot behind McFadden are youngsters Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones. Goodson, who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, has proven himself to be a bit of an underachiever so far. Jones, a compact speedster, is regarded as a change-of-pace back who doesn’t have the size or durability to carry the full-time load.
The only other candidate for carries on the Raiders roster is Lonyae Miller, who went undrafted out of Fresno State in 2011. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll push for playing time and might not even make the 53-man regular season roster.
With Benson, the Raiders would be getting an experienced veteran who’s had his fair share of carries in the NFL (1,529 to be exact). There’s no doubt that he carry the load (at least 273 carries in last three seasons) and has the size/strength to pick up the tough yards. The tread on his tires is obviously wearing thin and fumbles have become a big issue for Benson over the past couple of seasons (12 total since 2010). Still, he’d be a safer option than forcing either Goodson or Jones into extended action.
So the answer to the question at hand is yes. Adding Benson would give the Raiders some insurance behind injury-prone McFadden, who will more than likely miss at least a few games this season due to health reasons. He has valuable experience as a starter and could easily handle 15-20 touches a game with help from Goodson and Jones.
Will it happen? Maybe. Would it put the Raiders in a better position than they are currently in? Yes.