Why Darren McFadden Is A Risk Worth Taking for Oakland Raiders

By Karim Akbar
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY SPORTS

This isn’t exactly the right time for Darren McFadden to be negotiating a new deal with the Oakland Raiders. McFadden is coming off a dismal season where he averaged a pedestrian 3.2 yards per carry. Injuries also plagued yet another season and the thought of a new deal makes Raiders officials’ stomachs turn. McFadden blames the offensive scheme for the drop in production, but what to make of the injuries?

How much money does someone like McFadden claim with all of his injuries? And can new coordinator Greg Olsen and line coach Tony Sparano refurbish McFadden back to his old self? Will the Raiders even pony up for the workhorse?

It’s apparent that McFadden was less than enthusiastic about the zone blocking scheme he was forced to run last season. Sparano wants to bring back the power-blocking scheme McFadden thrives in, and that would allow McFadden to focus on being a straight-line back. The switch takes generous advantage of McFadden’s explosiveness and ability to create big plays. It’s a good sign, but it seems as though McFadden’s feelings were hurt in the process. McFadden, who is a free agent after this season, has remained mum on any talks as of now.

Though Oakland recently ‘checked in’ on Darren McFadden to gauge his interest in returning and at what price, I can see why the Raiders have doubts. McFadden is nursing yet another injury adding to his running tally of seasons where he saw time on the disabled list. Darren just can’t stay healthy long enough for the Raiders to pull off some wins. He’s missed at least three games in each of his five seasons. It’s concerning to say the least, and teams are aware the shelf life of a running back is limited. But it’s tough to say at this point if the window has completely closed on McFadden.

As McFadden enters the final year of a rookie contract there are plenty of questions that have the Raiders uneasy. If McFadden wants to prove it was the scheme and not him nearing the end of his career he will have to do that on the field. The Raiders have to hedge their bets on McFadden delivering and give him the chance to do so. As frustrating as it is for us to constantly see McFadden on the disabled list, it’s really in the Raiders best interest to keep and re-sign him.

He may get banged up, but he’s still explosive. “Obviously, he never felt comfortable in what we were doing last year,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen told Sports Illustrated’s Ian Rapoport. “That led to some questions about him, but if you watch practice, the guy’s still explosive. He’s still a threat to take it all the way. And he feels more comfortable. If you don’t quite trust it, there’s always that doubt.”

Doubt can be a crazy beast.

Karim Akbar is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem , “Like” his RantSports page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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