Sep 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) carries the ball in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Which Running Back Should The Oakland Raiders Re-sign This Offseason?

The Oakland Raiders have some major questions coming up this offseason with a ton of money coming off of the books and several key players with contracts that need to be renewed. Perhaps the biggest name is their oft-injured superstar Darren McFadden. McFadden has been nothing but unrealized promise and potential, because he just can’t stay on the field. With just a single 1,000-yard season and a declining yards per carry average, is it time for the Raiders to cut ties with the former fourth overall pick from Arkansas?

McFadden had his lowest rushing output since 2009, when he only played in 12 games and split time with Justin Fargas and Michael Bush. It was also his only season other than 2009 that he did not have a run more than 30 yards. The most alarming stat is his yards per carry statistic. McFadden average 4.8 yards per carry before the last two, which have been consecutive years of 3.3 yards per carry. Those two lackluster years have dropped his career average down to 4.2 yards per carry. McFadden is no longer showing the explosive playmaking ability that made him one of the up and coming stars of the NFL.

It was another injury-filled season for the star tailback. It was the second-fewest games played in a season for McFadden with just 10. Five of the six games that McFadden missed came in the final nine games of the season. He was also highly ineffective during those four games that he did play in, as he had 21 carries for 39 yards for a 1.9 yards per carry average and one touchdown.

The most effective running back on the Raiders team was actually free agent pick up Rashad Jennings. Jennings showed promise with his first couple of seasons in Jacksonville, as he spelled Maurice Jones-Drew. When given an opportunity for more touches with Jones-Drew suffering with injuries, Jennings could not take advantage with his least productive season of his career. The Raiders picked him up in the offseason as a bargain free agent and insurance for the oft-injured McFadden.

Jennings was a revelation for the Raiders offense with his powerful north-south running style. Jennings filled in admirably when McFadden went down. Over that final nine-game stretch is when he was able to show what he could do, he had 127 carries for 593 yards for a 4.7 yards per carry average and six touchdowns. The first three games of that nine-game stretch saw Jennings gain 350 yards, which was nearly McFadden’s total in the entire season.

Now to look at the contract situation, McFadden is coming off the final year of a six-year, $42 million deal. Jennings is coming off of a one-year, $630,000. McFadden is going to be 27 years old going into next season, while Jennings is going to be 29 heading into the 2014 season. McFadden is still young enough to command a pricier contract, as you would be paying for potential. Jennings would command a higher price than his low money, but it would not break the bank. Jennings would also be a much shorter term deal, as he is nearly that dreaded age of 30.

The smarter deal would be to sign Jennings and let McFadden test the free agent waters. Jennings would give the team some freedom in regards to the salary cap and the roster situation. A cheap deal with Jennings would allow the Raiders to be smart with the vast of amount of cap space they have opened up for the upcoming offseason. They can focus on re-signing key free agents and to fill key holes. A short-term deal with Jennings will also not prevent the team from looking to the draft to find their running back of the future.

Overall, Jennings looks to be the running back that the Raiders need to focus their efforts on bringing back, as he makes the most sense from a financial and personnel standpoint. McFadden’s time as a Raider has probably come to an end and it is time for the team to find the new face for their offense.

Tags: Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders Rashad Jennings

  • PJ

    Not an every down back. Latavious needs to get his ass on the field with him. Mcfragile can get cracking with Jackson!

  • holy roller

    no doubt that dmc is our best bench warmer but we shouldda took his back-up in the draft……he’s out. Jennings is in with Reece beside him. All we need are the players to back up this formidable tandem. Ok, now I’ll read ur piece.

  • holy roller

    Nice article………..I think we can all move on. It’s really not even a legitamite query IMHO. The better is, why tha hell can’t da realize that TP is lightning in a freakin bottle?

    • PJ

      I have been saying that over n over. Give him some protection and he will let the dogs out! We need to go trenches on this draft early. Without a QB attack or keeping TP clean we are screwed! RM needs to pull his head out. He has come out of the gates flat the last 2 years. We cant miss with a solid trench!

  • John Thomas Hurdle II

    Yes I say re-sign Jennings to a 3 yr. contract maybe 2 Million a year. We have Latavius Murray a big power back like Bush in came last year ankle surgery. Also this year I say draft Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde. in the late 2 or 3 round. I want to see a power run game that gives or young QB’s. help. To help a QB is to have a running game and a powerful Defense. Stop looking for a QB because we have 2 great up and coming QB’s. Terelle is a Sugar Bowl MVP. That needs people to give him support. McGloin has proven he might be something in the same system like another Matt Flynn. But for a coach with no real experience to say that he don’t think that the QB of the future is not on the team. Well hell we don’t think the Coach of the future is on the team either. If we fall below 8-8 this year. The next head coach will be Michael Singatary.