Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Oakland Raiders cannot rule out any strategy when it comes to improving a team that went 4-12 last season.
The Oakland Raiders need to improve and they need to do so with expediency. After a decade of fielding horrific teams, the Raiders showed a lot of promise and got the Raider Nation excited with back to back 8-8 seasons. Clearly these were not great seasons, but after what the fan base had been through, they sure seemed great.
Then team owner Al Davis passed away and a complete overhaul of the organization began. The result of the overhaul? A 4-12 season that left Raiders fans yearning for a return to the ways of Al Davis.
Now, second year head coach Dennis Allen and second year general manager Reggie McKenzie are tasked with making solid improvement after new owner Mark Davis expressed his displeasure at the end of last season. In attempting to right the ship, McKenzie cannot afford to shut the door on any potential roster moves, including a potential trade of star running back Darren McFadden.
In fact, I believe the Raiders would like to trade McFadden if given the opportunity. McKenzie, of all people, knows how the league is turning into a passing league and how important the quarterback position is. Similarly, he recognizes how the running back position is being devalued. Plus, as Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins proved last season, it is not that uncommon to find a solid running back late in the draft. Add to this the fact that McFadden is perenailly injured and may very well walk away as a free agent next off season and the idea of trading McFadden is clearly not an outlandish one.
So the question being asked should not be whether the Raiders are willing to trade McFadden, but rather, will the Raiders find anyone willing to give them value for McFadden.
When healthy, McFadden is capable of being a top five running back, he proved as much in 2011. The problem is, that same year he also showed a continued inability to play for an entire season. In his five years in the league, McFadden has never played an entire season. His best was 13 games played, a mark he reached in both 2008 and 2010. As a result, any potential trade partners for the Raiders would be taking a big risk acquiring an injury prone back.
In addition, as noted above, McFadden becomes a free agent after the 2013 season. Thus, if anyone traded for McFadden, they would run the risk of the trade being for nothing more than a one year rental. At the end of that rental, if McFadden plays well, he could wind up demanding a rather high salary, making him difficult to re-sign.
Because of these reasons, I think it highly unlikely that the Raiders will be able to find someone who is willing to give enough compensation to justify trading McFadden. That being said, I do believe the Raiders will actively pursue trade partners for McFadden, so it all depends on how other teams view the risk.