2013 Could be Darren McFadden’s Last Chance for a Big Payday

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No more excuses for Darren McFadden.

For five seasons, all we’ve heard about is how much potential Darren McFadden has and how great he’ll be if he can just stay healthy. The problem is, he’s never been healthy. Not for a full season anyway. He’s been a shell of the superstar that dominated college football at Arkansas during his collegiate career, injuries or not.

His disappointing production throughout his NFL career has been blamed on everything from playing for a bad team to injuries and schemes. Few people, however, have come right out and asked “Is this guy really that good?”

McFadden had a 1,000 yard season in 2010 when he was able to stay healthy for 13 games. He’s had promising starts and finishes to other seasons, but has never been able to stay healthy or consistent.

It’s the consistency that scares me about McFadden more than anything.

The fact is, McFadden has played in 57 games — roughly 3 1/2 seasons worth of games. That’s a pretty decent sample size. Given that size, if you assume he in fact did play 3 1/2 full seasons, his career rushing totals yield an average seasonal output of around 935 yards. That’s hardly elite production for a guy many consider to have elite talent. That total would have been good enough to finish 19th in the NFL in 2012. His yards per carry would have put him in the same spot. This is a guy due to make nearly $6 million this coming season.

2013 is supposed to be different. The Raiders are supposedly implementing the same type of downhill, power-running scheme that yielded the best results of McFadden’s career. With Carson Palmer unlikely to be a Raider when the season starts, it looks as though the Oakland offense will go as McFadden goes, putting even more pressure on him to produce.

The NFL is a place where guys disappear quickly — especially if they underachieve. With Oakland trying to get younger, a running back who will be 26 when the season starts and has never played to all of the potential he was supposed to have will be easily expendable.

If he’s not resigned by the Raiders, he can kiss a second large contract goodbye. I know Raider Nation well. They are realists. As such, they won’t be offended, given the recent history of the franchise when I ask “If the Raiders don’t want you around, who does?” Oakland has been the land of second chances and a safe haven for veterans trying to scrounge together a few final paychecks for years.

Those days are over.

Darren McFadden’s chances are over. 2013 is the time for him to show out or be forgotten — perhaps ending up as a low-dollar value pick up during free agency in 2014 if he’s lucky. My gut tells me McFadden will rebound and have a nice season. The numbers, however, tell me that what we’ve seen is what we’ll continue to get.

BY J.P. SCOTT ON MARCH 29, 2013

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About J.P. Scott

Owner and editor of Know It All Football, contributor to AthlonSports.com and GridirionExperts.com. Member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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