The Falcons don’t have an overt need for a running back, but one just became available. Kenyan Drake is expected to be released by the Raiders. If Atlanta is interested, they’ll be on the phones right now. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday that Las Vegas plans to release Drake.
Josina Anderson of CBS Sports added that the Raiders “will still keep an ear to the phone for potential eleventh-hour trade inquiries” for Drake but that the team’s “clear-cut intention remains to move on either way.”
That wording is important because the transition won’t become official until Tuesday, so if Las Vegas can find a suitor before 4 p.m ET, the trade partner won’t have to contend with other teams for Drake’s services.
Drake’s season was cut short by a broken ankle, but he has been an active participant during Raiders training camp. The 28-year-old totaled 254 rushing yards and two touchdowns, adding 291 receiving yards and a score on 30 catches. Through Vegas’ three preseason games, he’s totaled 30 yards on 12 attempts while catching five passes for 27 yards.
In 2020 with the Cardinals, Drake finished with 955 rushing yards and ten touchdowns, then signed a two-year deal worth up to $14.5 million with $11 million guaranteed in the 2021 offseason. He’s the unfortunate victim of an overcrowded running back room with the Raiders. Vegas signed Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah, and drafted fourth-rounder Zamir White and seventh-rounder Brittain Brown. That’s not even considering Josh Jacobs, who fell just short of 1,000 yards last season — the first time he’s done so in his career.
A third-round draft pick in 2016, Drake began his career with the Miami Dolphins before he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in October of 2019. He recorded career highs of 239 carries, 955 yards and ten touchdowns for Arizona in 2020. Should the Falcons be interested? Probably not.
Atlanta’s running back room is somewhat filled too. Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams and Tyler Allgeier will certainly garner most of the carries out of the backfield, but Qadree Ollison is competing with a slew of others for one of the final roster spots, which will likely mean a practice squad spot. Drake would be an upgrade over Ollison and likely Allgeier, but the front office has to see what they have in the BYU product at some point. Picking up Drake’s contract wouldn’t be a wise allocation of cap space. And I doubt he’d choose Atlanta in free agency. More than likely, Drake ends up on a competitive team with a huge need at running back, which the Falcons don’t have.