Oakland Raiders: two running backs become free agents, only one comes back

Darren_McFadden_Raiders (usable)Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings,  two of the three leading rushers for the Oakland Raiders in 2013, both became free agents after the season. The Raider Nation was happy to see McFadden go after six seasons of little production and injury, while Jennings provided a spark rushing for 733 yards.

Many hoped McFadden would be let walk and the team would upgrade the running back position, possibly resigning Jennings.

However on the first day of free agency, besides letting Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston walk, the Raiders let Jennings walked, as he signed a four-year $14 million contract with the New York Giants.

In the same day, Oakland resigned McFadden to a one year $1.75 million contract, although he could earn up to $4 million through certain incentives. According to McFadden’s agent, he actually declined bigger contracts with other teams to stay in Oakland.

“Darren wanted to stay a Raider. He felt like he still had something to prove in silver and black,” says his agent in an interview with the Contra Costa Times.

Jennings was not an elite talent that could fix the Raiders offensive woes, but he was an efficient option and could have been retained cheaply, as I previously explored.

Now McFadden’s contract is more of a prove-it deal. With only Jeremy Stewart and Latavius Murray on the roster, McFadden has a prime chance to take control of the majority of carries. But unless he runs with better vision and power, it will be another year of a struggling running game.

It is still early in the offseason, and Oakland could still sign another running back or draft one. The organization is unlikely to put all the responsibility on McFadden, and they shouldn’t.

With Rashad Jennings, Lamarr Houston, and Jared Veldheer gone, Reggie McKenzie hasn’t done a great job retaining his free agents.