The Raiders have raised eyebrows with several of their offseason moves over the last month, including signing running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year deal worth up to $14.5 million with $11 million guaranteed.
Drake was Arizona’s leading rusher in 2020, taking 239 carries for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns. But it’s Josh Jacobs‘ presence that made adding Drake confounding, as Jacobs has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.
It doesn’t appear that the Raiders want to move Jacobs out of his starting role. But head coach Jon Gruden believes Drake brings more to the table than just taking handoffs.
“He can run it, catch it and return it,” Gruden said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “He’s a threat to make a big play with or without it.”
Drake was used more as a receiving threat in Miami, where he caught a career-high 53 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns back in 2018. But he wasn’t used much in that capacity in 2020, making only 25 catches for 137 yards. Drake’s caught 169 passes for 1,244 yards with six TDs in his five seasons.
But he hasn’t returned kicks with any frequency since 2018, when he averaged 21.3 yards on 10 returns. As a rookie in 2016, Drake had a 96 yard kick return for a touchdown. He hasn’t returned punts in the league.
Still, if Drake turns into the versatile offensive weapon Gruden envisions, then Las Vegas’ $11 million gamble will pay off.