Darren McFadden Free Agency: Oakland Raiders Negotiate Contract Extension, Rashad Jennings to Return as Reggie McKenzie Targets Veteran Backup RB in 2014

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Feb 20, 2014 12:07 PM EST
Darren McFadden
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (C) celebrates with teammates center Samson Satele (64) and offensive tackle Jared Veldheer (68) after scoring a touchdown on a seven-yard run against the San Diego Chargers."

It was assumed that Darren McFadden was good as gone from the Oakland Raiders. Since being drafted back in 2008, McFadden has failed to look like the first-round pick the Raiders were hoping to get. After yet another injury riddled season spent missing several games, Oakland looked ready to waive the running back off to the free agent market. However, that might not be the case just yet.

The Raiders are giving McFadden one last-ditch effort. According to NFL Insider Gil Brandt, the Raiders are meeting with McFadden and his agent this weekend to discuss the possibility of re-signing the running back before free agency begins. The moves comes as a bit of a surprise considering general manager Reggie McKenzie confirmed the team would have McFadden test the market before considering bringing him back.

"Darren's going to be a free agent and there's been communication with his agent," McKenzie said, via ESPN.com. "He's going to see what his market is. And that's the thing, when you're talking about the games that he's missed, he has no idea -- and when I say 'He,' I'm talking about his agent -- he has no idea what his market value will be and I couldn't tell you what the other 31 teams think."  

McFadden had one bright year in the NFL. In 2011, he averaged 5.4 yards per carry while putting up 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns. This was supposed to be McFadden's year with a newly re-worked offensive system. However, injuries once again hurt his productivity. The running back only played in 10 games, averaging 3.3 yards per carry and 379 yards total of rushing. McFadden has never played a full season in the NFL, something that has killed is value in the league.

Raiders fans should not get their hopes up that McFadden returns. His backup, Rashad Jennings, is clearly the better option for the team moving forward. He thrived this season while filling in for McFadden. Jennings is set to also be a free agent this season and McKenzie has made him a priority to bring back.

So where could McFadden land in free agency if negotiations do not work out with Oakland? The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be the frontrunner. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was McFadden's coach the season he played his best football in the league. The team needs a backup running back and he could join Giovani Bernard as a rotational player in 2014.

McFadden's time as a starting running back is likely over. It is hard to imagine any team giving him an expanded role given the fact that he has missed at least three games every season. 

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