Raiders expected to make push to sign Doug Martin

NFL Free Agency, Oakland Raiders

In search of a back to spark their running game, the Oakland Raiders hold Doug Martin in high regard.

In 2016, the Oakland Raiders had a top-10 rushing offense. Things got worse last year, falling to 25th in the league despite the signing of Marshawn Lynch as the offensive line was not quite as dominant. Lynch may or may not be back in 2018, but according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network the Raiders are expected to make a “strong push” to sign Doug Martin.

Martin topped 1,400 yards twice in six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finishing fifth in the league in rushing as a rookie in 2012 (1,454 yards) and second in the league in rushing in 2015 (1,402 yards). But the other four seasons were plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness, with a suspension that overlapped from 2016 to ’17, and the Buccaneers made an easy decision to release Martin in February.

Lynch did not deliver to the top end of expectations last season, with 891 yards and seven touchdowns on a per-carry average of 4.3. But he did get better late in the season, with two 100-yard rushing games and another 95-yard outing over the final five games.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden reportedly came away impressed with Martin during a face-to-face meeting. But that’s far from enough to overlook the fact he averaged 2.9 yards per carry over the last two seasons, with no added value as a pass catcher (23 receptions in 19 games).

The Raiders have Jalen Richard (5.5 yards per carry and 56 receptions over two seasons) and DeAndre Washington (5.4 yards per carry in 2016, 34 catches in 2017) in place as change-of-pace/backup running back options. If Lynch is retained early in the new league year, there’s absolutely no need to sign Martin. And if Lynch is not kept or he chooses to retire, Martin is not the answer to take over as anything close to a lead back.

Gruden may think Martin has renewed motivation, and feels it can be tapped into. But general manager Reggie McKenzie needs to be in the mix, with a reminder the best version of the “Muscle Hamster” is long gone.

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