Darren McFadden is ready to put 2012 behind him and to move on from a disastrous season that saw him have the lowest average per carry over every other starter in the league. Entering a contract year DMC has high hopes for returning to form with the return of his preferred blocking scheme of Power (PBS) over Zone (ZBS).
After this many years in a row of failing to be able to rely on McFadden one does have to wonder if he will be a Raider for much longer. There are more than a few fans and pundits out there that feel like now is the time to trade McFadden and move on from him considering the rebuilding process and his contract year status.
Reggie McKenzie might want to see how he does in the system that actually fits him before deciding whether or not to move on from McFadden. With the switch back to the PBS comes an excitement for Darren to get back to what he is good at. He never fit in the ZBS well with the lateral movements it requires but now DMC gets to get back to running north and south instead.
At this point it is a better idea to ride it out with McFadden and see where the chips fall for next season. They could extend his contract this year to avoid free agency with him next year but both sides have clear reasons to wait and see how this season goes. If the Raiders were to trade him it is unclear what they could get for him but realistically it probably wouldn't be much more than a 3rd round pick.
If McFadden were to get back to the elite back status he showed capable of in 2011 his pay day would go up quite a bit but it would be better to chance that over extend him for a number of years without being able to trust him. If he has another injury plagued season the Raiders will be moving on from him without a doubt but they do not want to make that decision prematurely.
If they were to trade him for peanuts compared to what he is capable of and then he has a great season the Raiders would be kicking themselves for that too just as they would if they extend him and he under-performs again. Even if he ends up having a great season Oakland would have the option to franchise tag him instead of let him test the market so it isn't like they HAVE to extend him or they have no choice but to lose him next year.
Unless a team came out of the wood works and offered a 2nd or 1st round pick for McFadden there is definitely more upside to keeping him this season. Plus lets face it, McFadden is a name that sells tickets and they can't really afford to get rid of any more players that sell tickets after sending Carson Palmer packing.
The Raiders certainly can afford whatever salary DMC demands next year with their projected $69M in cap space anyway. With that in mind the Raiders definitely should roll the dice on McFadden for another year. Let him finish his contract and prove what he deserves instead of the pay for potential plan that has failed in Oakland for far too long.
One thing Oakland needs to do this year though is find a capable back in the mid rounds of this year's draft. Maybe a flier on Marcus Lattimore in the 4th round, or Montee Ball could be worth a try as well. They should add a contingency plan for if McFadden isn't around after this year and for if he would get hurt, because right now they don't have much of a replacement if he were to go down.