Oakland’s run game is not available at the moment. Leave a message, and they will return your call at their earliest convenience.
Bernie Parmalee, the Raiders running backs coach, should use that for his voicemail — and if there’s no phone line, get one. The players need to hear it, and the team’s front office knows it. What’s more, the Raiders need to consider offering some real trade bait in return for a quality running back.
Like quarterback Matt McGloin and cornerback D.J. Hayden, two players who shouldn’t on the roster, but could be assets for a few teams. Perhaps the Cowboys would be interested, and offer up running back Alfred Morris.
There are other options besides orchestrating a trade, such as signing free agent Stevan Ridley, or waiting for the right option on the waiver wire, but trading for another backfield piece seems like a pretty reasonable thing to do for a team that looks pretty good, but is still short of having the personnel to be dominant.
The biggest hurdle, really, might just be the team’s running back situation.
Two aforementioned names, Ridley and Morris, are 27 years old and faced statistical declines last season. But they compliment each other quite well. Ridley is a nice pass-catching back who can move well, and Morris is a between the tackles runner who can create plays from little.
Both could reinvent themselves behind a big, tough, and bully-proof Raiders offensive line.
And there’s always the waiver wire after final cuts — names like Isiah Pead, Andre Williams and Khiry Robinson might be available. But if they weren’t good enough in their previous spot, how good could they be on the Raiders?
Oakland needs to make a deal.
Morris seems like the most realistic candidate to be dealt, and though he had an off-year in 2015, there was a coaching change and a quarterback change. That affects a player’s game more than some might think.
His contract is very friendly, and Dallas needs some help at quarterback and cornerback. Would they take on McGloin and Hayden? Possibly.
The Cowboys and Raiders have made trades before. Five since 2003, most recently the Raiders sending receiver Brice Butler to Dallas for the draft pick Oakland used to select DeAndre Washington 143rd overall in the latest NFL draft.
Jerry Jones is a personal friend of the Davis family and likes to deal. McGloin and Hayden are on the roster bubble for Oakland, but would fit right in with Dallas, a team with a weak defense and a quarterback with major health concerns moving forward.
A promising start for Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott might not be enough for Jones to hedge his bets and acquire another option to call the offense.
The two teams match up well as trade partners — Dallas’ strengths are equal to Oakland’s weaknesses, and visa versa.
And even if the Raiders don’t land Morris, they need to get their fishing poles out and hope for bites.
Hayden has some value, despite coming from the worst draft class in the modern NFL, and the Raiders could always offer some draft compensation, especially with performance incentives tied to it.
1,000 yards turns into a third rounder. 200 carries, a fourth. If the player stinks it up, you’re left in the dust. Whatever works, general manager Reggie McKenzie needs to do it.
Because the Raiders can’t win without a running game. No team can.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.