There has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of running back Marshawn Lynch’s return to the Oakland Raiders. After a disappointing comeback year, there were rumors that he may see a decreased role under the new regime of head coach Jon Gruden.
Those reports intensified with the recent signing of running back Doug Martin. However, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Raiders will keep Lynch as their feature back in the 2018 NFL season:
Marshawn Lynch will remain a member of the Raiders. Sources say he is receiving his $1M roster bonus on March 18, a clear sign he’ll be their feature back… if there was any question.
The Raiders already had already set the bar high going into the 2017 NFL season. However, that was amplified by the return of Lynch from a one-year hiatus. Needless to say, they both fell vastly short of the expectations.
Fortunately, there is a newfound sense of optimism with the return of Gruden. The only concern since his hiring was how seemingly non-committal he was to the idea of Lynch being the workhorse back. The addition of a player like Martin only facilitated rumors about his role on the team for next season. However, Oakland’s decision to pay out his roster bonus is a clear indication of how he will be used in the new scheme.
It is safe to say that Lynch’s hometown debut did not go as planned after rushing for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also somewhat involved in the passing game with 31 receptions for 151 yards. Regardless, it is clear that Gruden hopes to have his own 1-2 punch in the backfield with a couple of former Pro Bowlers. That said, it will be interesting to see how the new dynamic will work with the expectations still higher than ever moving forward.