Running back Darren McFadden will return for one more season in Oakland. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
The Raiders in the post-Al Davis era were going to be about solid football decisions and no more front-office wackiness, yet this week has been Grade A wacky.
Two of the team’s best linemen were allowed to leave, its best running back in 2013 signed elsewhere, a big free-agent signee failed his physical and the Raiders are now courting several once-great defenders even though their quality of future performance is suspect.
And, in the midst of it all, running back Darren McFadden – who seemed as if he’d played his last game in Oakland – is back for another season.
McFadden, who’s had trouble staying on the field because of injuries, reportedly turned down more money elsewhere to stay with the Raiders for a very inexpensive one-year deal.
According to reports, McFadden’s base contract is worth $1.75 million, with another $2.25 million possible through incentives. And, only $100,000 is guaranteed.
“We did have real interest from four or five other teams,” McFadden’s agent, Ian Greengross, told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “One offered more money. Darren wanted to stay a Raider. He felt like he still had something to prove in silver and black.”
The Raiders definitely could use a healthy, productive McFadden. Right now the roster has just McFadden, second-year pro Latavius Murray (who didn’t play as a rookie), Jeremy Stewart and Canadian Football League signee Kory Sheets at running back. So, barring a free-agent pickup or high-round draftee coming in over the next several weeks, McFadden will go into training camp as No. 1.
But McFadden missed six games in 2013, four games in 2012 and nine in 2011 – more than a full season in three years, and his yards-per-carry average has dropped from 5.2 and 5.4 in 2010 and 2011 to 3.3 the past two seasons.
Though he won’t turn 27 until late August, there are doubts if McFadden will ever become the back he appeared he would become in 2010, when he rushed for 1,157 yards.
As Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated wrote just before the start of the free-agency signing period, McFadden had the potential to be one of the biggest busts among all free agents this offseason.
“Starting to grow more and more concerned that McFadden is destined for the Christian Okoye ‘Remember That One Year He Was Awesome?’ Hall of Fame,” wrote Burke. “Like Okoye, who propelled himself to NFL … fame with a breakthrough performance in his third season and then fizzled rather quickly, McFadden has not been able to replicate the 1,664 all-purpose yards campaign of 2010 – mainly because he has yet to play more than 13 games in any one NFL season.”
So, yes, McFadden does “still have something to prove in silver and black.” That he chose to stay in Oakland and turn down more money elsewhere may say a lot about McFadden’s commitment to the city, its fans and his motivation.
Past performance usually is the best predictor of future performance, but McFadden appears eager try to buck history in 2014.