Doug Martin

NFL rumors: Bears approached by multiple teams about Jordan Howard trade

NFL rumors: Bears approached by multiple teams about Jordan Howard trade

Add another running back to the list who could be a potential target for the Raiders.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday that multiple teams have approached the Bears about trading for tailback Jordan Howard. 

Howard, 24, rushed for 935 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018, but split time with explosive running back Tarik Cohen in Chicago's backfield. Schefter writes that "questions remain as to whether [Howard] is a long-term fit in coach Matt Nagy's offense," so the trade rumors have begun to swirl.

Howard burst on the scene in 2016 as a rookie, rushing for 1,313 yards and making the Pro Bowl. But he has not been able to match those numbers since and is in the final year of his contract.

While the Raiders issued an RFA tender to running back Jalen Richard on Thursday, the team's other two running backs in 2018 -- Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin -- are unrestricted free agents.

The Raiders previously have been linked to former Steelers tailback Le'Veon Bell, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and many other high-profile players. They have the cap room (about $73 million, per OverTheCap.com), and the desire to make a "splash" after Gruden's first season in Oakland did not go according to plan.

[RELATED: What coaches, scouts, execs had to say at NFL combine]

So if Lynch and Martin leave in free agency and Bell signs elsewhere, perhaps a trade for Howard could be in the cards.

Because with Gruden and these Raiders, you never know. As Kevin Garnet infamously said, "Anything is posssssssible!"

Ranking the Raiders' top five needs heading into free agency, NFL Draft

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AP

Ranking the Raiders' top five needs heading into free agency, NFL Draft

The Raiders season stunk. It was a throw away, in essence, used to acquire the NFL draft picks and salary cap flexibility to remake the roster as Jon Gruden sees fit.

Now is that time. The Raiders have roughly $78 million in cap space and 10 NFL draft picks, including four in the top 35 selections.

The Raiders are armed well to reload in a pivotal offseason where we could and should see significant roster turnover. Let’s rank the Raiders’ top five needs heading toward the 2019 season:

[RELATED: Mayock believes he, Gruden agree on how to build Raiders]

1. Edge rusher

The Raiders didn’t generate much pressure on the quarterback, especially from the flanks. Arden Key and Frostee Rucker were miscast as three-down players, forced into some roles that played away from their strengths.

They were forced into steady snaps after Khalil Mack got traded and a frustrated Bruce Irvin got cut, eliminating established threats off the edge.

The Raiders have to start over atop the depth chart. They could use more than one new impact edge rusher, with Key returning as the situational pass rusher he was expected to be as a rookie.

There’s enough salary cap space to sign someone in a loaded free-agent class that gets away from his team – several, including Jadeveon Clowney and Frank Clark, should re-sign with their current clubs – who can get a raise to lead the defense and provide some heat. Then the Raiders should still use their No. 4 overall pick on another edge rusher.

That could remake the defensive front, with Key in reserve and 2018 draftees Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall helping rush from the inside.

2. Receiver

Jordy Nelson is coming back in 2019. The Raiders should build a whole new position group around him. Nelson is a solid leader and a smart pass catcher who can still produce, but he doesn’t have the wheels to scare opponents anymore.

Seth Roberts is likely gone, Martavis Bryant is suspended again and Brandon LaFell won’t be back after suffering an Achilles tear. Marcell Ateman will remain, but needs more time to develop in a much smaller role.

The free-agent class is thin outside Golden Tate and a few others, but a free agent could still help the group and add experience. The Raiders should use a first-round pick on a receiver, and maybe another selection later in the draft to remake the group. Derek Carr needs dynamic threats, and didn’t have many after Amari Cooper was traded to Dallas near midseason.

3. Middle linebacker

The Raiders started the 2018 season with Marquel Lee in the middle spot, but moved him to the strong side as the year progressed. Jason Cabinda and Nick Morrow platooned at that spot after the Lee switch and were serviceable young players, but a new and dynamic presence is needed on the inside next to returning weakside linebacker Tahir Whitehead.

The Raiders haven’t devoted significant resources to this, but now might be the time to do so. A veteran makes the most sense, which would allow Cabinda and Morrow to continue developing underneath a more established player.

That guy must cover well if playing all three downs is required. Philadelphia’s Jordan Hicks seems like an affordable fit there.

4. Safety

Karl Joseph sure looked like the answer at strong safety and should be expected back next season, but his running mate is up in the air. Marcus Gilchrist was just okay as a one-year rental and Reggie Nelson won’t return, leaving the Raiders lacking at the free safety spot. Erik Harris had some good moments there, but could be a strong No. 3 who can play extensive snaps in a pinch.

There are plenty of good free agents and a few early-to-mid-round draft picks who could be the ballhawk an otherwise strong secondary could use roaming in the back.

5. Running back

Marshawn Lynch proved to be as physical and aggressive as ever early in the 2018 season, before a groin pull ended it after six weeks. Lynch’s contract expired and there’s no telling what he’ll do in 2019, though it sure seems unlikely he would come back unless the Raiders played within the Oakland city limits.

[RELATED: Raiders reportedly discussing San Diego as 2019 home]

Doug Martin finished strong after Lynch got hurt, but he’ll be 30 next season and there could be some questions about whether he could stand up to a full season as a feature back. Jalen Richard is expected back in restricted free agency and Chris Warren III will be ready to go after a rookie year spent on IR.

The Raiders could and probably should look for a young runner in the draft who can compete for or grow into a large role on first and second down. There’s always a possibility Le’Veon Bell could end up with the Raiders, but it seems are more likely they'll add versatile depth to the position group.

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 35-3 season finale loss to Chiefs

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 35-3 season finale loss to Chiefs

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Raiders' season ended with a whimper. They didn't play spoiler Sunday by beating the Chiefs. They didn’t finish strong like they’d hoped.

The Silver and Black were worked 35-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, where they have struggled mightily in recent seasons.

This game wasn’t competitive. The Raiders turned over the ball on their first four drives, and were down 21-0 in less than 21 game minutes. The paragraphs above were written then, with no worry over whether they’d hold true at game’s end.

The Raiders finished the season at 4-12, equal to the worst campaign of coach Jon Gruden’s 12-year career.

This game featured a few individual bright spots, but it brought a proper end to a disappointing season that started with high hopes before turning into a full-scale roster rebuild.

Here are three takeaways after Sunday’s loss to playoff-bound Kansas City (12-4):

Nowhere close to catching KC

The Chiefs are the AFC West’s gold standard. They have won three consecutive division titles, while the Raiders are mired in last place and in the midst of a full-scale rebuild. The Raiders have lost eight of their last nine games to Kansas City, and they must reverse that trend to start consistently competing for playoff positions. The Chiefs are vastly superior, especially with Pat Mahomes at quarterback. That was clear Sunday, when a talent chasm was on full display.

Gruden has a major project ahead, one that must include several quality drafts and free-agent signings, to leapfrog the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers and rate among a talented division’s best teams. The Raiders finished 1-5 in the division, and improving that mark will be the first sign of progress in reconstructing the franchise.

Draft pick remains high

The Silver and Black acquired two 2019 first-round draft picks by trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Those selections have lost serious value. The Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys won their respective divisions, meaning those picks will be in the 20s at best.

The Raiders will have a high pick, however, thanks to their own disappointing season. Their loss to Kansas City, combined with other results across the NFL, locked the Raiders into the No. 4 overall selection. That’s high enough to draft a premium defensive player, even without a deep quarterback class and a possible early run on pass rushers.

That also means the Raiders would have the No. 35 overall pick. By rule, teams with equal record flop positions every other round. The first-round tiebreaker is determined by strength of schedule.

Derek Carr’s no-interception streak snapped

The Raiders quarterback threw 322 consecutive passes without an interception. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history have gone that long without a pick.

Carr’s streak didn’t go any further, though, after tight end Jared Cook stopped running a route when he was targeted, resulting in Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen's pick-six.

While Carr has had three picks dropped during the streak, the one that counts wasn't his fault. The ball was in the air when Cook’s route halted.

The next interception, however, was on Carr. He didn’t see Reggie Ragland sit on Jordy Nelson’s route, and the Kansas City linebacker cut it off and rumbled well downfield on the return.

[RELATED: Raiders' 2019 opponents finalized]

Picks weren't Carr’s only issue with ball security. He held onto the ball a smidge too long, and rookie left tackle Kolton Miller was beat off the edge, allowing Justin Houston in for a strip-sack.

Carr had a few positive milestones Sunday, exceeding 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career and breaking the NFL record for most completions in a quarterback’s first five seasons.

A rough finish to the year -- Carr never plays well at Arrowhead Stadium -- doesn’t change the fact that the signal-caller run Gruden’s offense well, especially as the year progressed. Another offseason in the system, and some upgrades at receiver, should help Carr take another positive step in 2019.