Raiders Re-Sign Darren McFadden
The Oakland Raiders retained veteran running back Darren McFadden on a one-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency. There were some who thought the two sides would part ways, especially after yet another injury-riddled season from the former top-five pick.
McFadden appeared in just 10 games last season, going for 379 yards and five touchdowns with a career-low 3.3 yards per attempt average. Overall, McFadden has missed 40 percent of the Raiders games over the past two seasons and 30 percent of all possible games since joining the NFL back in 2008.
When on the field and healthy, McFadden used to be one of the best all-around running backs in the league. He still boasts an average of 5.0 yards per touch and just over 70 total yards per game in his career, but McFadden’s best season came back in 2010 when he put up nearly 1,700 total yards and 10 scores.
At $4 million for one season and with Rashad Jennings heading to the New York Giants on a free-agent deal, it appears that McFadden will be given every opportunity to earn the starting job in Oakland this upcoming season. His only real competition comes in the form of fullback Marcel Reece, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season. Oakland’s 2013 sixth-round pick Latavius Murray missed his entire rookie season and is a relative unknown at this point.
Despite having a ton of cap room to make moves, Oakland will now likely look at other positions of need in free agency. It’s also unlikely that Reggie McKenzie and Co. will look to go running back before the mid rounds in the 2014 draft. As I indicated above, they have a lot more to worry about on one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL.
Oakland lost starting left tackle Jared Veldheer to the Arizona Cardinals in free agency and replaced him with former St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold. According to our official grading metric, Saffold finished 91st among 128 offensive tackles in run blocking, while Veldheer came in at 86th among tackles in the same category. Of course, Saffold played half the 2013 season at guard, where he was much better, so his grade might be a bit misleading.
A true wildcard due to injury, McFadden’s fantasy value for this upcoming season is also based a great deal on who is under center in Oakland. As of right now, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin would be battling for the starting gig. We all know that the Raiders are in the market for a veteran and will likely look to pick up a young quarterback in May.
Even with a viable quarterback in the backfield, it’s nearly impossible to rely on McFadden as anything more than a decent flex option or the first running back off the bench. Simply put, you can’t rely on someone who has missed 30 percent of his career games through six seasons.