What to do with Michael Bush?

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
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What should the Oakland Raiders do about Michael Bush?

That is a question you’ll hear asked many times in the next two months.

The person making the call is probably not wearing Silver and Black yet. The team is looking at general-manager candidates. Green Bay’s Reggie McKenzie -- is considered the frontrunner. It is very likely the new general manager will make the call on free agents, with some input from some currently on the staff.

The question is, will Oakland try to guarantee it keeps the valuable free agent by giving him the franchise tag? The running back franchise will reportedly will be $7.7 million in 20012, which is a decrease from past years.

Bush is the Raiders’ backup and $7.7 million is a steep price to pay a backup. However, he is a backup who could be pressed into starter’s action. That’s what happened this year. Bush went from being a reliable second option to the Man in Oakland when starter Darren McFadden was lost for the season Oct. 23 with a foot injury.

McFadden is expected to be ready for next season. But he has missed, at least, three games in all four of his NFL season. Having a reliable backup like Bush is important in Oakland, where running the ball is a major part of the offense.

Still, Bush wold likely rather go somewhere to be a starter, and he will be coveted if he isn’t franchised. Bush, who will turn 28 in June, had 977 yards on 256 carries in 2011. Those totals were both career highs. Bush did tire down the stretch. He ran for 78 yards or less in the final six games. He averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry in a game just once in that stretch.

That will be a concern for any team that considers signing Bush. However, since this was by far his most NFL action, he could be forgiven for slowing down.

The new Raiders’ brass will have a lot of questions to answer and Bush’s future will be one of the first questions to address.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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