NFL Analysis: Time for Oakland Raiders to Trade Darren McFadden?

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There have been whispers that the Oakland Raiders may be better served to trade away the talented, albeit injury prone, Darren McFadden. 

Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times was tweeting last week that it may be an option for Oakland. The organization hasn’t came out and said that he’s on the market but he’s their most valuable commodity and they are draft pick poor in 2012. If you believe they are actually thinking of moving McFadden, then you have to move on to the next step in the process. How much would an NFL General Manager give up for a top 5, young, running back that struggles to stay on the field?  So, today I promote you to NFL GM of your favorite team. How much would you give up for McFadden or would you even do the trade?  Let me answer a few of your questions first….

If he’s a top 5 RB, why would the Raiders trade him?

There are three main reasons.

1 – He has only 2 years remaining under his contract and if he comes back and performs well, they will have to consider paying a big free agency contract or losing him for nothing. Either way is a risk. If they give the big contract they will always have to worry about the injuries in the future and if he leaves for more money in free agency, then they lose out on the window of making the team better by trading him.

2 – Injuries! It doesn’t matter how talented a player is, if he can’t stay on the field then they lose out on their investment. No team wants to use a top 5 draft pick on a player and actually be right on the talent but five years later have nothing to show for it because he spends more time in the hospital than the gridiron. A decent trade would be the best of both worlds for them, they make sure to get value back for their top 5 pick / RB and replenish their draft picks.

3 – Draft picks. Well, Oakland started a little earlier than every other team on the 2012 NFL Draft. As a matter of fact, every selection has been made with the exception of two. Here’s a layout of how this year’s draft has played out so far:

  • 1st Round Pick: Carson Palmer out of USC by way of Cincinnati
  • 2nd Round Picks: Joseph Barksdale out of LSU & Taiwan Jones out of Eastern Washington by way of New England
  • 3rd Round Pick: Terrelle Pryor out of Ohio State by way of a Tattoo Parlor
  • 4th Round Pick: Jason Campbell out of Auburn by way of Washington
  • 5th Round Pick: Yet to be Selected
  • 6th Round Pick: Yet to be Selected
  • 7th Round Pick: Aaron Curry out of Wake Forest by way of Seattle

*Oakland should be receiving a few compensatory picks as well due to losing several key free agents.

Why would the Raiders keep him?

Once again, he’s a top 5 running back. While I believe that good running backs are a dime a dozen, the elite ones are definitely keepers. McFadden was getting buzz from some circles last year, before the injury, that he may the best our at least top 2-3 running backs in the game. He’s only 24 and is unstoppable when healthy. Oakland runs the risk of taking a discounted trade and then having him go somewhere else, stay healthy, and become the game’s best back. Here’s what he as done the last two years…

  • 2010: (13 Games) 223 carries – 1,157 yards 5.2 avg 7 TDs — (Receiving) 47 rec 507 yards 10.8 avg 3 TDs
  • 2011: ( 7  Games) 113 carries -   614  yards 5.4 avg 4 TDs — (Receiving) 19 rec 154 yards   8.1 avg 1 TD

There were only 2 running backs who had over 100 carries and a greater yards per carry average during the 2011 season. Fred Jackson had a 170 carries and a 5.5 ypc average and DeMarco Murray had 164 carries and a 5.5 ypc average.

Well, that’s what they’re sitting in Oakland thinking right now. It only takes one of the other 31 teams to be intrigued enough to make the call. If you were the GM in St Louis, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Indy, Cincinnati, Cleveland, etc, would you pull the trigger and if so, what picks would you be willing to give up?