Dillon interests Raiders but at what price?

Rumors are almost true – key word almost. There is plenty of reason, however, to be compelled by the Oakland Raiders reported interested in Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillon. The rumor is that the Raiders and the Denver Broncos, everybody's favorite team in Oakland, are interested in acquiring Dillon via trade despite his declining performance last season.

Perhaps, Denver's interest in Dillon is a maneuver to get the Raiders to possibly part with a second-round draft pick to acquire Dillon and thus keep him from going to a division rival.

Acquiring the 30-year old Dillon is tempting in one respect but he might not warrant a second-round pick either. Keep in mind, Dillon is coming off a season in which he rushed for a career-low 541 yards and was hampered with a groin injury in the process.

Dillon entered the NFL in 1997 from the University of Washington and for his first six seasons, he was super. Dillon rushed for 7,520 yards and 43 touchdowns. It's just that his achievements were not as noticeable as other great backs because he played on lousy teams. But can Dillon regain that form one year after being slowed by a groin injury? If he can, then his peculiar personality traits will be irrelevant. But it's not a given that he can regain that form. You can bet the Raiders won't care about his reputation personally. It's never stopped them in the past.

Dillon played in 13 games last season but even when he was healthy, he could not supplant Rudi Johnson as the starter. Cincinnati is clearly planning on building its ground game around Johnson while the notoriously unhappy Dillon is scheduled to make $3.3 and $3.85 million over the next two seasons.

The Raiders, meanwhile, have their own concerns at running back, hence the interest in Dillon. As expected, Charlie Garner is gone and signed a free agent deal with Tampa Bay. Tyrone Wheatley was one of very bright spots, to speak of, offensively for Oakland. Wheatley showed he can be productive but it remains to be seen if he can be the every down answer. Justin Fargas, last season's third round draft pick, has a ton of promise but he has not played enough to draw any conclusions about him.

First-year Raiders head coach Norv Turner likes running backs who can carry the ball 25-plus times per game but is Dillon up to that task?

For Dillon, however, it's not just his personality that is the question. Instead, you must ask if last season's decline was an aberration or the start of a trend? Dillon averaged 287.7 carries in his first six seasons while also running on artificial turf. Plus, plenty of great backs have declined after being overworked early in their careers – like Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis and Eddie George.

Could Dillon be next?


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