Contrary to earlier expectations, the Oakland Raiders aren't necessarily looking to likely franchise tag impending free agent RB Michael Bush, according to Steve Corkran of ContraCoastaTimes.com.
The Raiders' up-and-coming restored regime still has many burning needs and not a lot of cap space to address them. They're $11 million in the whole and have 22 players schedule to hit the open market.
Michael Bush, 27, is entering his fifth season and wants to become a starting running back. He's well-aware that won't happen in Oakland as long as Darren McFadden, 24, who's also entering his fifth season, is on the roster.
With this in mind, the Raiders will have to decide whether to place the franchise tag on Bush—to the tune of $7.7 million or so for the upcoming season—as Bush isn't likely interested in a long-term contract.
The 6-1, 245-pound back out of Louisville was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. While Bush had his worst overall average in yards per carry (3.8), he also had his career-best in receptions (37), receiving yards (418), receiving scores (1) and rushing yards (977) in 2012. He's accumulated 2,642 yards on 632 carries (4.2 YPC) with 21 touchdowns on the ground and 91 receptions for 879 yards and 1 TD in four seasons (61 games, 19 starts) in Oakland.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie had a history of finding unheralded RBs and developing them into productive players with the Packers. Taking into account the Raiders have McFadden and second-year pro Taiwan Jones waiting in the wings to grow, losing out on keeping Bush might be a smart investment.
According to Corkran, strong safety Tyvon Branch is the only other player that could receive the franchise tag, but also stating that "it's more likely that the Raiders will try to work out a long-term contract with Branch so that they can avoid committing a ton of money to Branch for 2012, when they need to use some of that money on other players."
While Oakland can use additional depth and upgrades at receiver, linebacker and in the trenches, the biggest glaring weakness is at cornerback. The team will have a tough time trying to bring in one of the top prospects at the position in the upcoming draft, but there could be several options on the open market.