It seems the Oakland Raiders have had enough of the running back-by-committee arrangement.
On Wednesday, Oakland opted to re-sign one-third of the committee, halfback Justin Fargas, who unexpectedly emerged as team's leading ball carrier last season.
"Justin really wanted to remain with the Raiders, and the Raiders made it clear that they wanted him back," Fargas' agent Stephen Baker told the Mercury News on Thursday. "He feels the offense very much suits his talents."
Fargas, 28, signed a three-year, $12 million deal, including $6 million in guaranteed money, a Raiders press released confirmed. By reaching certain playing incentives, Fargas can earn as much as $14 million over the three-season span.
The early offseason move indicates that the Raiders may be content with just Fargas for next season, meaning the remaining two-thirds of the committee from last season -- veterans LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes -- may see their days with the silver and black coming to an end.
The eldest of the trio, Jordan, is seemingly all but gone at this point. The Raiders would have likely cut the 29-year-old mid-season last year, but injuries to AFC West rival running backs Travis Henry (Denver Broncos) and Larry Johnson (Kansas City Chiefs) deterred team owner Al Davis from making Jordan available to other teams.
In the final 10 weeks of last year, Jordan carried the ball just 31 times for 54 yards and didn't surpass 20 yards rushing in any single game from Week 8 on. That momentum certainly won't help the 230-pounder at this point. Jordan is scheduled to earn $4.7 million this year, which is a rather hefty contract for a player who was deemed all but valueless for the majority of last season.
One of Jordan's colleagues, ex-Indianapolis Colts rusher Dominic Rhodes, may also be nearing the same fate. That is, a release. Rhodes, like Jordan, will earn a rather substantial contract figure next season in relation to his productivity in 2007 (just 302 yards on 75 carries). If Oakland wants to keep the 28-year-old around, it will cost the team $3 million, or half of what it'll pay 1,000-yard rusher Fargas.
Combined, then, it would cost the Raiders $7.7 million to keep both Jordan and Rhodes, and $13.7 million to keep all three.
With soon-to-be second-year halfback Michael Bush recovered and ready for action, the Raiders may readily wave goodbye to both Jordan and Rhodes.
The former Louisville running back, who was selected by Oakland 100th overall in the 2007 NFL draft, racked up 2,508 yards and 39 touchdowns with the Cardinals before suffering a season-ending injury to his right leg in the first contest of his senior season.
Still, heading into last year's draft, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Bush ranked fifth among his top running backs, Scout.com ranked the senior halfback No. 10 and ProFootballWeekly positioned him ninth among 75 college RBs.
The same way Oakland took a chance re-signing Fargas, it may take a similar risk on Bush by letting go of both Jordan and Rhodes.
Either way, this week's events make it clear that Justin Fargas will be the new committee in 2008.
Anthony Carroll can be contacted at email@example.com