Jon Gruden: Raiders counting on Marshawn Lynch to be starting running back

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Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) looks on during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There has been some question about whether new Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden would want Marshawn Lynch to return to the team next season.

Lynch continued to find himself in the news for wrong reasons in his first season with the Raiders, including an ejection and subsequent suspension for shoving an official. He’s seen as an enigmatic personality. Gruden himself is more of the old-school hard knocks mentality.

Whether this relationship will work moving forward remains to be seen. But we now know Gruden and his Raiders are counting on Lynch to produce next season. Not only that, he’s expected to be the feature back.

“I would like to have a fullback. They’re a dying breed in football, but I think it gives your running game a lot of deception,” Gruden said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, it would be nice if we serviced him with a fullbackā€¦and you need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. Those are two things I’m looking for.”

Gruden also praised what he saw from Lynch on tape last season.

“Looking at the film and the game I broadcast on Christmas night (versus Philadelphia), there’s no question he’s still a beast that is hard to bring down,” Gruden said. “One of the reasons I’m excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. We’ll see what happens.”

Lynch, 31, has one season left on the two-year, $9 million deal he signed with the Raiders last spring. Oakland can save nearly $6 million against the cap without a dead cap hit by releasing Lynch. It is also not completely known whether Lynch himself is fully guaranteed to return. Remember, he retired as a member of the Seahawks back in 2015 and sat out the entire 2016 campaign before returning to his hometown Raiders last year.

The former Pro Bowl running back put up north of 1,000 total yards and seven touchdowns last season.