It’s been expected for months that Darren McFadden will be playing somewhere besides Oakland in 2014.
Going into the final year of his contract this past season, the Raiders and McFadden had hoped for a breakout year. After a series of injury-shortened seasons, McFadden was excited about feeling healthy again and getting a chance to run in a new offensive scheme that emphasized a return to straight-ahead power blocking.
“This is very exciting for me,” McFadden told the San Francisco Chronicle after the hiring of new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who had discarded the zone-blocking scheme of 2012. “I am the type of guy who likes to go downhill, make a cut and go. That’s my thing. We’ll mix it up like we used to, and get some zones in there, but for the most part, I will be keeping my shoulders toward the line of scrimmage.”
Yet the only thing going downhill was McFadden’s hopes for a big performance in his contract year.
He played just 10 games and gained only 3.3 yards per carry (379 yards on 114 attempts) – the same average he had the year before, which had been the worst of his career. Though McFadden is only 26 – with some potentially productive years ahead of him – he’s been injury-prone, missing 19 of Oakland’s past 41 games.
So when the season ended, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he expected McFadden to test the free-agent market.
“Darren’s going to be a free agent and there’s been communication with his agent,” McKenzie told reporters after the season. “He’s going to see what his market is. And that’s the thing, when you’re talking about the games that he’s missed, he has no idea – and when I say ‘he,’ I’m talking about his agent – he has no idea what his market value will be and I couldn’t tell you what the other 31 teams think.”
One landing spot that’s been rumored, is Cincinnati, where former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is now offensive coordinator. McFadden had his best seasons while playing for Jackson.
Now, however, reports have surfaced that Oakland and McFadden’s agent are still talking.
Gil Brandt, a former Dallas Cowboys executive who now is an analyst for NFL.com, tweeted Thursday that McFadden’s agent will meet with the Raiders Saturday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis “to discuss re-signing.” Yet Brandt also noted that it will be “interesting to see (his) value if he hits open (market).”
Despite Brandt's report, Marc Sessler of NFL.com wrote he still believes McFadden will go elsewhere, with the reunion with Jackson the most enticing possibility.
Sessler’s bottom line: “Don’t expect McFadden to be back with the Raiders.”