Even with Frank Gore done for the season, Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake remained a role player Sunday.
Drake had just six carries and 10 total touches in Miami’s loss to Jacksonville.
By design or happenstance, Drake has been underused this season.
His 917 yards from scrimmage are most on the team, even though he has 11 fewer touches than Gore, who is on injured reserve with a foot injury.
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Despite being the Dolphins’ most explosive healthy player, he has carried the ball 10 or more times just four times this year, and none more than 14. Despite leading the NFL in rushing yards over the last month of the 2017 season, he has not surpassed 100 yards once this year.
With Kalen Ballage ascending and Gore itching for a return in 2019, there’s no reason to believe Drake’s role will be any bigger next year than it was this — assuming Adam Gase returns as coach and play-caller. Drake said last week that he’s not going to change his boom or bust running style, which Gase is reluctant to use in early downs.
That makes for a bad combination in Drake’s looming contract year. Drake is playing for relative peanuts on his rookie contract, and will probably have once chance at a big payday: in early 2020.
But will a team be willing to pay him like a featured back if the Dolphins refuse to play him like one?
That’s why we asked Drake if he wants to return to the Dolphins in 2019.
“I want to play winning football.”
That’s not a yes (and to be fair, not a no either).
Which is why we asked a follow-up:
Could that be here or somewhere else?
“I have one more year on my contract, so I’ll worry about that when I cross that bridge,” Drake replied. “We’re playing Buffalo next week, so that’s what I’m worried about.”
Translation: I don’t have a ton of leverage.
Options available to player in Drake’s position?
Hold out in hopes he’s cut or demand a trade.
Will he do either?