The Oakland Raiders are preparing for one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory and depending on how things go in 2013 will have a big effect on what the team does next year as they prepare for the future and one of the biggest question marks will be Darren McFadden.
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The running back has dealt with injury issues for his entire career and he has yet to play in a full schedule while with the team since being drafted back in 2008 and signing a big deal for six years and over $60 million. The Raiders will want to see if he can stay healthy this season before deciding on giving him a contract extension or a new contract at all and while he played in 12 games last season, the most he has played was in 13 in 2010, which ended up being his best year. Head coach Dennis Allen likes McFadden, but if the team sees he can't stay healthy, he is likely done in Oakland.
That brings in Maurice Jones-Drew. According to ESPN.com, a reader asked a question about the possibility of signing Maurice Jones-Drew as a free agent in 2014 as a replacement for Darren McFadden and blogger Bill Williamson said it could be an interesting possibility. McFadden has his question marks and Jones-Drew went to school in California and also has a connection with offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who worked with the running back in Jacksonville. On top of that, the Raiders will have a nice amount of cap space after more money comes off the cap and Reggie McKenzie could make a move.
Jones-Drew has dealt with injuries in the past himself and at 29 he is getting older, but he could be signed to a two or three year deal to minimize the risk of bringing him in long term. The biggest issue for the Raiders on either side of it is whether McFadden can stay healthy. In 2009 he will cost over $9 million to the cap and if he stays healthy he may end up with another nice contract.
McFadden has the ability to be one of the most explosive backs in the league and the team wants him to be healthy like he was in 2010 when he rushed for over 1,000 yards for the only time in his career and also added a career high seven touchdowns. What they don't want is for him to miss games like he has over the past two seasons and he has missed 13 while scoring just six touchdowns overall. He can catch out of the backfield and he had over 85 receptions combines in 2010 and 2012 and if he can do that again, the Raiders offense should be potent.
McFadden led the team in rushing despite injuries last season with over 700 yards and two touchdowns, but if he gets hurt again and Marcel Reece gets more carries and is effective, that could be the end for McFadden's Raiders career. The team went 4-12 last season and drafted Latavius Murray as a possible back for the future and McFadden knows that this season is a make or break year for him and that that Raiders want to improve their 28th ranked rushing yards per game on offense.