When the Oakland Raiders took Darren McFadden of Arkansas with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, many fans were wondering if the team had just picked the next Marcus Allen or Bo Jackson. After rushing for 4,500 yards in just three years at Arkansas and being the star in a crowded backfield featuring Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis, expectations for McFadden were sky-high. Raider Nation ordered his jersey by the thousands and if you take a trip to the Coliseum you will see that McFadden’s jersey is the most prevalent of any other current player on the roster. However, after six injury plagued years where he has only rushed for over 700 yards once (1,100 in 2010), it is safe to say that McFadden has been a colossal disappointment.
McFadden is the type of player who, when healthy, shows tremendous upside and incredible skill. He has shown flashes of being one of the best running backs in football but those are few and far in between. The rumors that the Raiders are still meeting with McFadden in hopes of signing to an incentive based deal at a very good discount are unsettling at best. We all know what he can be capable of but at this point he is just never on the field enough to prove himself. Even in a contract year where most players perform at their best, McFadden missed six games and lost his starting job to Rashad Jennings.
At this point it is not even about ability and potential when it comes to McFadden. To many fans, myself included, he represents the failure of the old regime to bring in players who would actually earn their megabucks contracts. His teammates and coaches have always supported McFadden and they claim that he works extremely hard and always has a positive attitude. All that is well and good but what good does hard work do for the Raiders if it does not translate to the field? This is not a knock on McFadden as a person, just as a player, but the Raiders need to let him go for the sake of the fans. His presence on the roster may convince the team to not go after a halfback in the draft and they could miss out on a great talent. The money for his contract could go to a player who can actually contribute to the team and not someone who always seems to be hurt.
Even at the veteran minimum it would not be worth it for the Raiders to bring McFadden back to the team. Let him go and see what his value is to the rest of the league and let his injuries be another team’s problem. Work with Kory Sheets, Latavius Murray, and Rashad Jennings and explore the draft for a diamond in the rough in the late rounds. Just move on from McFadden and the endless talks about his potential and what he could do and focus on someone that will actually perform for the Silver and Black.
If you like what you just read and are in to the other kind of football, check out Khaled’s Chelsea FC blog called The Pride of London.