It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Oakland Raiders will flounder during the upcoming 2013 NFL season. With that mind, why not look forward to 2014, a year that could make or break GM Reggie McKenzie’s future with the team?
One option that the Raiders could pursue when 2014 free agency rolls around is veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Heading into a contract year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, MJD might not be re-signed, which could give Oakland an opportunity to acquire the former UCLA star and Oakland native.
In order for the Raiders to sign Jones-Drew, a few pieces would have to fall into place.
First, Darren McFadden, the Raiders current starting running back, would have to fail in his attempt to bounce back from a horrific 2012 campaign. The former first-round pick struggled mightily last season, amassing only 707 yards and two touchdowns on 216 carries while battling a high-ankle sprain that forced him to sit out four games.
If McFadden’s issues with both injury and production continue, the Raiders could opt to let him walk via free agency. If that’s the case, the starting gig would be up for grabs.
Second, the Raiders would have to be confident that Jones-Drew’s own off-field issues were behind him. Turning 29 next year, MJD has had his fair share of setbacks over his seven-year NFL career. After holding out during the 2012 offseason in hopes of landing a new deal, Jones-Drew fell to a Linsfranc injury midway through the season and never recovered.
Also facing potential assault charges this offseason, Jones-Drew has a lot on his plate heading into 2013. If he can step up for the Jaguars and prove that he’s headed back in the right direction, the Raiders could definitely consider adding him via free agency.
The final factor that could make or break Jones-Drew’s return to Oakland is money. While the Raiders will have plenty of cap space to work with next offseason, MJD might be asking for too much to warrant a look from a rebuilding franchise. If the price isn’t right, the Raiders will look elsewhere for help at running back.
There are still numerous things that must happen before the Raiders signing Jones-Drew becomes a serious consideration. With his ties to the city of Oakland and Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olsen, who coached MJD in Jacksonville, a union between the two parties isn’t out of the question.
We’ll see how 2013 plays out and go from there.