Oakland drafted Josh Jacobs at No. 24 overall to join Richard and Isaiah Crowell in the backfield, Matt Kawahara of The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The use of a second-round tender earlier this offseason confirms the Raiders value Richard, who broke out as a pass catcher in 2018 with 68 receptions for 607 yards on 81 targets (7.5 YPT). His efficient work should lock him in for passing downs early in 2019, but Jacobs could push for some of those snaps throughout the season, as he posted a 20-247-3 receiving line his final year at Alabama. The rookie heads to Oakland boasting a strong reputation for both pass blocking and pass catching, with an unusually balanced skill set for a 220-pound, 21-year-old running back.
Richard has been adept as a change-of-pace and pass-catching running back in three seasons with the Raiders. He was especially impressive in 2018, hauling in 68 of his 81 targets for 607 yards (84 percent catch rate, 7.5 yards per catch). Considering other teams would have had to cough up a second-round pick if they extended an offer sheet to Richard, it's no surprise he found no takers on the market. With uncertainty regarding Marshawn Lynch returning to Oakland, the Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell to a one-year contract last month. As it stands, Crowell and Richard will handle the bulk of the RB touches in the fall.
Richard may sit behind Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin on the projected running back depth chart heading into the 2019 season, but he plays a valuable role as a pass-catcher, which isn't considered a strength of either of the aforementioned backs. He was effective in that area in 2018, as Richard more than doubled his previous career high and recorded 68 total receptions. He also improved upon his ball security with only two lost fumbles over a career-high 412 offensive snaps. All this played a role in the Raiders wanting him back for at least one more year, as any other suitors would have to surrender a second-round pick in order to sign the fourth-year back.
Richard rushed for one yard on three carries and caught two passes on as many targets for 17 yards during Sunday's 35-3 loss to the Chiefs.
Richard saw a significant uptick in usage throughout his third year with the Raiders as he totaled a career-high 123 touches for 866 yards and one score in 16 games. Despite a season-ending groin injury to starting running back Marshawn Lynch, Richard's value in standard leagues was capped by the resurgence of newcomer Doug Martin. Nonetheless, Richard was an intriguing option for PPR owners in deeper leagues given his 68 receptions on 81 targets for 607 yards. He'll be a restricted free agent in 2019, but the Raiders now have a clearer understanding of his talent as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
Richard (ankle) was a full participant in Thursday's practice.
As anticipated, Richard's status for the season finale in Kansas City was never in much peril after he was limited by an ankle issue at Wednesday's practice. With a full session now under his belt, Richard should reprise his duties as the top change-of-pace option behind starting running back Doug Martin. The No. 2 role hasn't prevented Richard from offering utility in deeper leagues the past four weeks, as he's cleared 50 yards from scrimmage on three occasions and hauled in 13 receptions in total.
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