Oakland Raiders Not Likely Bringing Darren McFadden Back


Darren McFadden has played every season of his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders, finishing up a contract that was paying him extremely well by signing a one season deal to prove himself to the franchise he has always been proud to be apart of even if his body betrayed his ability to live up to the expectations of a top draft pick and highly paid running back.

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McFadden signed that deal last offseason with the hopes that he could prove to the league that he can withstand a full 16 game schedule and provide a role, hopefully sticking with the Raiders if things went well. His season wasn’t spectacular by any means, but McFadden did play the entire season to prove that he could stay healthy for the first time along with averaging 3.5 YPC splitting time between starting and backing up Latavius Murray at running back. It was enough to keep the window open for McFadden to return on a similar deal in 2015, being able to provide locker room leadership as a potential third running back on the depth chart who can catch passes in the flats and break off a run off the edges from time to time.

However that opportunity may not be afforded to McFadden with new head coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave coming in. With a new coaching staff, it is becoming likely that the new era of the Raiders will move on from a player who has been heavily criticized for never living up to the high expectations he had set for himself when Al Davis made him the cornerstone of the Oakland offense in the 2008 NFL Draft.

According to Vic Tafur, the Raiders are likely to move on from DMC, with the Chronicle writer reporting that the team is unlikely to give him another small deal to stay in Oakland. Instead Del Rio and McKenzie would rather move on from McFadden, who gave the Raiders 535 yards rushing and 212 yards receiving over 16 games during the 2014 season.

From the SF Chronicle

"The Raiders are unlikely to bring back running back Darren McFadden on a bargain-basement deal like they did last season. McFadden started off as the No. 2 back behind Maurice Jones-Drew, started 12 games and gained 534 yards on 155 carries (3.4 average) before giving way to Latavius Murray.“To me, this year’s a little different because Latavius, in 2013 he spent the whole season rehabbing an injury,” McKenzie said. “Last year, I think he showed that he can be a player.”"

If that is the case and the Raiders move on from McFadden it will end a Raiders career that never quite reached the heights that fans expected even if DMC did turn in some memorable performances over his time in Oakland, including the infamous blowout over the Denver Broncos where the former Top 5 draft pick looked unstoppable. That was before injuries slowed down McFadden, who lost much of his explosiveness after missing most of the Raiders 2011 season and was never the same player afterwards.

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McFadden’s best year was in 2010, when he nearly lifted the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 2002, breaking 1000 yards rushing and starting strong in 2011 where the Raiders again nearly made the playoffs if not for DMC getting hurt in a year where he played only seven games. After that injury the Raiders began their rebuilding process and the injuries continued to mount for McFadden, who McKenzie was always going to need to improve upon at the running back position as his physical abilities were winding down even if he can still provide production at the right place.

It would be fitting that McFadden’s career in Oakland would end in the only season where he played a full 16 games, ending his chapter with the Raiders by doing something that he was often blasted for not doing in withstanding an entire schedule. Never the dominating rusher that he was drafted to be out of college, it appears there is a good chance McFadden’s long tenure in Oakland is coming to an end, writing the final pages on a journey that could have been far brighter than it was had he remained healthy.

If the Raiders do move on from DMC it will hopefully mean that Maurice Jones-Drew, who is far more limited than McFadden, is also cut to free up cap space. Jones-Drew failed to break 100 yards rushing last season on a sad 2.2 YPC so if McKenzie and Del Rio are serious about shuffling the running back position enough to cut McFadden loose to move to get rid of MJD would only make sense. Regardless it looks like the time in Oakland for a divisive talent is coming to an end, putting to close a chapter in Raiders history that many would want to forget even if McFadden tried his best to help make his career a success even when his body sadly was not able to allow him to reach the expectations put in front of him.