Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Who Stays? Who Goes?
Dec 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Bills 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
This offseason could mark the end of a very polarizing era for the Oakland Raiders running back room. Darren McFadden, AKA Run DMC, ended the 2013 season with everyone expecting him to be suiting up for a different organization, only to sign a one year, next to nothing, “prove it” contract with the Raiders. While DMC was able to stay healthy through the course of all 16 games for the first time in his seven year career, he was a non factor in the run game. Averaging 3.4 yards per carry, finding the end zone only twice, and breaking off only one run for more than 20 yards.
Mcfadden has always been, and continued to be a fairly valuable weapon in the pass game. When Derek Carr throws McFadden’s way, he completes 81.8% of his passes, for an average of almost 6 yards per reception. With most of those catches coming in the flat, or on short routs just across the line of scrimmage he managed to rack up over 250 YAC.
Do I think McFadden will ever have another 1000 yard season rushing in the NFL? No. Do I believe he is ever going to be the feature back of an NFL franchise? No. Do I believe he has a spot on the Raiders roster? Absolutely. Darren McFadden has been a Raider his entire career. At the beginning of every season, he shows up ready to work; no matter what the coaching situation is, no matter who the quarterback is, what blocking scheme is being used, he shows up and works.
The playcalling for the Raiders in 2014 may go down as some of the worst I’ve ever seen; abandoning the run at the first sign of trouble certainly didn’t help McFadden’s season. But the last three games of the season, when Murray had solidified himself as the starter, McFadden’s efficiency went up dramatically, and he started averaging 5.3 yards per carry. I think signing Run DMC to a two or three year contract, with an appropriate yearly salary, and very little guaranteed money would be a great move, he’s a versatile offensive weapon, he just needs to be put in situations he can win.
The other running back who will be looking for a new contract in the NFL is former CFL star, Kory Sheets. The former Saskatchewan Roughrider was able to rack up over 2800 yards on the ground in just two seasons with the team. Sheets was making some noise on the practice field for the Raiders last season before an injury ended his season prematurely. I don’t see the harm in brining him in to training camp and seeing what he can do, he won’t cost much and he might serve as a solid special teams player, or best case scenario; he could be a compliment to Murray in the run game on Sunday’s.
The two running backs couldn’t be in more different situations. Run DMC, clearly entering the twilight of his career, and Kory Sheets looking to make his mark on the league as an unknown. I think Reggie can re-sign both of these guys for pretty modest contracts. I know its a business first, but at some point the deserving should get what they deserve, McFadden has given everything he’s got to the Raider organization, I feel he deserves to retire a Raider.
McFadden = Split
Sheets = Keep
Next: Wide Receivers