Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

January 22, 2008
So you want McFadden? Gotta deal with Fargas first

Hope all you NFL fans are enjoying Matt Barrows’ coverage from the Senior Bowl.

He’s the 49ers beat writer so his coverage is going to focus on the Niners. If there’s anything related to the Raiders I can use, I’ve already ask that he pass it along.

So on this one, there’s no anti-Raider conspiracy.

Of the nine Trojans Lane Kiffin and his staff are coaching the North Senior Bowl team, I still believe offensive tackle Sam Baker has the best chance of becoming a Raider, assuming the Raiders trade down and Kiffin snags one of his former players

But all the buzz I’m hearing from fans surrounds Darren McFadden.

The Arkansas running back is apparently popular among Raider fans who believe he is the star running back the team has lacked since Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen ran with the Los Angeles Raiders.

With that in mind, here’s my look at the running backs (and fullbacks) from the 2007 season and what the Raiders can do to upgrade.

The story of the 2007 season centers on Justin Fargas and his emergence as a competent tailback. He started seven games and finished with 1,009 yards and four touchdowns – both career highs.

His season ended after 14 games when he sprained his MCL.

But whether Fargas returns is unknown.

He’s an unrestricted free agent. Kiffin is on record as wanting Fargas back. Fargas wants to return, based on conversations I had with him toward the end of the season.

Bringing Fargas back almost guarantees the Raiders won’t draft McFadden – the top back in the draft – if he’s available.

But the Raiders won’t break the bank to keep Fargas. If another team wants to throw a lot of money at Fargas, he’d be crazy to pass it up.

This situation is cloudy because the Raiders never played Michael Bush. I believe it was one of the biggest mistakes of the 2007 season.

Even though LaMont Jordan had already been benched and Dominic Rhodes was available, the Raiders didn’t cut Jordan (who asked to be released) which would have created a roster spot for Bush.

Bush was rated a first-round pick before breaking his leg in 2006 at Louisville. If Bush could have played and shown he’s indeed as good as advertised, it would have done a lot.

If he showed he could be a starting tailback, the Raiders might know they don’t have to pay Fargas a lot of money.

Right now, Fargas has a lot of leverage. He’s popular among teammates, had a good season and as of right now, he’s the only sure thing at running back.

Bush hasn’t played. Jordan will probably be cut and the team has to decide if it wants to pay Rhodes a lot of money to be a backup.

Before McFadden can become a reality, the Raiders have to decide if Fargas and Bush is a tandem worth investing in.

If it is, don’t expect McFadden to be a Raider.

Then again, it’s always been said Al Davis likes his stars …

The Raiders are fine at fullback. Justin Griffith is a veteran with receiving ability. Oren O’Neal is coming off a rookie season in which he proved to be a punishing run blocker.

Based on questions I’ve received lately, there are a lot of questions about the offensive line. So that’s what I’ll touch on in the next couple of days while I mix in some time off while waiting to hear from Kiffin.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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