If you’ve made it past the title, I want to both congratulate and console you. I’m not saying the Raiders will trade Darren McFadden, nor am I saying that a trade is possible. These are things I will never know. Instead, what I am saying is that it would be in the Raiders’ best interest to pursue a trade. Of course, over the short-term, such a trade essentially waves a white flag to the competition. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It was short-term thinking that have the Raiders wallowing in the muck and mire. It was short-term thinking that acquired Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer. It was short-term thinking that lead to five different head coaches over seven indistinguishable years. It seems, since the hiring of Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have shifted focus to the long-term, which is exactly where such a trade would pay dividends.
One reason for trading McFadden stems from his combined $15 million cap hit over remaining two years of his contract. The greater reason stems from the fact that he’s not good enough to warrant that amount of money. In fact, according to both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus, McFadden is hardly worth the league minimum.
Pro Football Focus
Notes: As you can see by the amount of red on this chart, McFadden is not a very effective runner, though he’s a more than adept pass catcher. Beyond that, McFadden’s seven missed tackles (MT) ranks him as the 26th in the league, putting him along side the likes of Steven Jackson and Cedric Benson. His 137 yards after contact (YCo) ranks him 25th. Not what you’d expect from a fourth overall pick.
Notes: Perhaps nothing is more telling of McFadden’s true ability than effective yards (which is Defense-adjusted Value Over Average translated into yardage) and his success rate (which measures consistency). McFadden’s effective yards (EYds) has never matched is actually yardage, which means he played worse than his actual yardage indicates. In total, according to Football Outsiders, McFadden is not exactly starting material.
Whether or not these statistics would effect McFadden’s trade value is yet to be scene. Effectiveness didn’t affect the market for Carson Palmer (zing!), nor did it effect the markets of Roy Williams (1st, 3rd, & 6th), Peerless Price (1st), Javon Walker (2nd), Justin McCareins (2nd), and Keenan McCardell (3rd & 6th).*
Granted, most of those are receivers. But, what’s stopping McFadden from generating an equally large return?
Precedent, you say?
Well, you might have a point. Historically, starting running backs don’t fetch a large bounty. In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks acquired (hit-and-) running back Marshawn Lynch for essentially only a 4th round pick. In that same year, the Denver Broncos also gave up a 4th round pick to acquire Laurence Maroney. In 2007, the New York Jets sent Thomas Jones and a 2nd round pick to the Bears for a 2nd round pick. In 2004, Champ Bailey and a 2nd round pick were sent to Denver for Clinton Portis.
So, history doesn’t look favorably on trading running backs, but this year could be different. The new CBA moved the trade deadline back to week 8, meaning that the contenders and pretenders will be better defined. Teams could be more willing to make a big splash to improve their rosters, teams like the Lions, Cowboys, Jets, and Cardinals
The Lions running game ranks 20th in the league. Given that the team has the talent to win now, it stands to reason that they’d be in the market for a running back. Oh! Guess what Jason LaConfora of CBS Sports tweeted back in August?
The Lions might be even more motivated to make a deal now that they’ve sunk to fourth place in their division. Also, that Jahvid Best has been deemed unfit to return to professional football might provide further impetus for a trade.
In 2008, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones loved McFadden enough to consider trading up to draft him. At the time, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that “[McFadden] is the No. 1 offensive player on Dallas’ board. When I talked to Jerry yesterday, he indicated it is very close in his mind whether McFadden alone would be worth their other two picks late in the first round.” With DeMarco Murray’s future in question, Jones might not be able to help himself.
New York Jets
The Jets just traded a 4th and 6th for a running back this offseason, so its unlikely they’ll trade for another. But, they were heavily rumored to be interested in Maurice Jones-Drew. Perhaps that interest will transfer to McFadden?
The Cardinals are currently atop the NFC West, though that lead is tenuous at best. With Kolb’s future in flux and no running game to speak, the Cardinals might make a large splash, though beat writer Kent Somers has reported stating that any deal would be unlikely.
If the Raiders could secure a few draft picks for McFadden, the deal might prove worthy, especially since this team has a surplus of need and a deficit of draft picks (only five in 2013) and money. Further, though McFadden’s game-breaking ability cannot be denied, it might be replicated. Back-up Mike Goodson has proven serviceable up to this point (he actually may be performing better than McFadden is, according to PFF). And, well, he probably wouldn’t do anything to injure the Raiders’ playoff chances. Ultimately, any detriment to the Raiders brought on by trading McFadden would be nullified by the long-term potential of such a deal.
*The draft pick(s) acquired in exchange for the player is in parentheses.