The Oakland Raiders must make another big trade, and this one simply has to involve the team’s best all round player, stud running back Darren McFadden.
I know that many people may feel as if this would be ludicrous, but it is a move the team simply must make over the next few months.
McFadden is the best player on the Raiders, hands down. He is one of the most explosive players in the game. When he is on the field, of course.
Therein lies the problem.
McFadden is as talented as they come. He is a power back with tremendous break away speed and a nose for the end zone. He is an excellent pass catching back as well, and would be a great addition for any team. In fact, when McFadden has been healthy and on the field, he is in the same category as only Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and Lesean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles. McFadden is that good.
But once again, he is only as good as he is healthy, and the two just seem to go against each otehr so often.
McFadden just finished his fourth season with the Raiders, but it ended short once again, this time with a Lis Franc injury that caused him to miss much more time than everyone expected. This has been a pattern with McFadden throughout his career.
Here is a stat line for McFadden since he was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Arkansas:
2008: 13 games (5 started) // 113 carries for 499 yards // 29 receptions for 285 yards // 4 total TD
2009: 12 games (7 started) // 104 carries for 357 yards // 21 receptions for 245 yards // 1 total TD
2010: 13 games (13 started) // 223 carries for 1,157 yards // 47 receptions for 507 yards // 10 total TD
2011: 7 games (7 starts) // 113 carries for 614 yards) // 19 receptions for 154 yards // 5 total TD
McFadden’s numbers seem to get better, but he just cannot seem to stay healthy. We have seen this with so many players. All the talent in the world cannot make up for the fact that they cannot remain on the field.
And throw in the fact that as good as McFadden is, Oakland already has another back more than capable of carrying the load in Michael Bush. Drafted the same season, but coming off the heels of an injury at the University of Louisville, Bush saw plenty of action in McFadden’s absence last season. Here is a look at his stat line for this past year in the Bay Area:
2011: 16 games (9 starts) // 256 carries for 977 yards // 37 receptions for 418 yards // 8 total TD
As you can see, there is not a significant drop off for the Raiders when McFadden is forced to the sidelines. He can run, catch and block, and he rarely misses any time. He is also slightly cheaper than McFadden.
The bottom line is that while Oakland just missed reaching the postseason last year, they are still quite a ways away from being considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender. New general manager Reggie McKenzie was said to want “gut this place” by former head coach, Hue Jackson. The team hired former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen as the new head coach, and the team will most likely undergo drastic changes over the next couple of seasons.
But unfortunately, following some ill advised trades, most notably that of Carson Palmer this season, Oakland does not have a draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft until the fifth round as of right now. McKenzie already cleaned house on the coaching front, and if he wants to make significant changes to the organization, then he will most likely do the same with the player roster as well.
The Raiders will receive some compensatory picks for losing Robert Gallery and Nnamdi Asomugha through free agency, but not being able to select a player until the fifth round will severely limit what they can do this upcoming season, as they also do not have much salary cap room.
Trading McFadden is their only chance to make an immediate impact, and in the AFC West, it will not take much to win that division. If Oakland is able to trade McFadden for some early draft picks, perhaps even a first and third in this upcoming draft, then the rebuilding may begin earlier than expected, but the success could also come earlier than many feel is possible.