Updates from Saturday, Mar. 15
The Oakland Radiers have officially announced the re-signing of running back Darren McFadden:
Vic Tafur provides McFadden's feelings on returning to the Raiders:
Updates from Wednesday, Mar. 12
Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times provides a statement from Ian Greengross discussing offers his client, Darren McFadden, received this offseason:
"We did have real interest from four or five other teams -- one offered more money," said Ian Greengross, McFadden's agent. "Darren wanted to stay a Raider. He felt like he still had something to prove in silver and black."
Running back Darren McFadden's NFL career has been riddled with injuries and a failure to reach his full potential thus far, but the Oakland Raiders are banking on his best days being ahead of him as they locked him in for the 2014 season by signing the ball-carrier to a one-year deal per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports further breaks down the financial details:
McFadden was the fourth-overall pick by the Raiders in the 2008 NFL draft, and although he showed flashes of brilliance on numerous occasions, he has yet to become the player that the Raiders envisioned when they invested so much in him.
It seemed as though McFadden had finally figured things out in 2010 when he rushed for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games, but injuries and ineffectiveness prevented him from replicating that impressive season during the ensuing years.
The past two years have been particularly trying for McFadden. He missed 10 out of a possible 32 games, and even when he was on the field, he seemingly lacked the explosiveness that made him such a big star at the University of Arkansas. In fact, McFadden looked like little more than an ordinary plodder at times.
His recent struggles are particularly troubling because they occurred under different coaching staffs. According to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, McFadden averaged 3.3 yards per carry in both 2012 and 2013, so the change in philosophy certainly didn't help.
McFadden missed six games this past season due to various injuries, and he was routinely outplayed by the likes of Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece anyway. McFadden was able to return for the team's Week 16 game against the San Diego Chargers and he managed to score a touchdown, but head coach Dennis Allen was less than enthralled with his showing, according to Marcus Thompson II of the Daily Democrat.
"I thought he was fine," coach Dennis Allen said. "Nothing spectacular."
Allen's statement says a lot about how far McFadden has fallen. Run DMC was one of the most explosive and dynamic running backs in the history of college football. His entire game was built upon being spectacular. That has been absent from his performance over the past two seasons, though, and it remains to be seen if it will ever return.
Oakland can always move on in 2015 if McFadden continues to struggle, so there isn't a long-term investment involved, however, the Raiders are taking a leap of faith nonetheless.
The one thing that McFadden has on his side is youth. He is still just 26 years old, and he'll be only 27 when the 2014 season begins. Running backs generally don't hit the wall until the age of 30, so there is no reason why he can't regain his past form theoretically.
With that in mind, there was some thought that he would generate buzz on the open market. The Cincinnati Bengals seemed like a good fit on the surface, but James Morris of Bengals.com reported that there may not have been mutual interest:
Another thing working in McFadden's favor is that there isn't much tread on his tires. Due primarily to injuries, McFadden has topped 200 carries just twice during his NFL career, and he has never racked up more than 223 totes in a single season. With that said, remaining healthy is still his biggest obstacle.
McFadden has yet to complete a full 16-game season in the NFL, and he has yet to play in more than 13 games over the course of an entire season. His potential is seriously capped because of that, but McFadden still believes that he can fulfill his promise, per Thompson.
"It's hard to deal with, but at the same time I feel like I'm built for this. I'm cut out for this. Anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's always been my motto."
If McFadden's motto rings true, then one can only assume that he has the strength of 10 men by now. He has gone through plenty of trials and tribulations over the course of his career, but the talent is still there.
Provided McFadden can finally figure out a way to stay healthy and produce on the field, he may very well earn himself an even bigger contract next offseason.
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