Darren McFadden joining the Cincinnati Bengals and reuniting with Hue Jackson is still very much a thing as we head toward NFL free agency.
It has been easy to write off the notion of McFadden to the Bengals as the rumor mill reaching for something that makes sense. It most certainly does, especially considering McFadden had his best year as a pro under Jackson. But a report from NFL.com’s Marc Sessler shot down the notion recently:
But it won’t happen. That’s what one agent told us at the NFL Scouting Combine. Too bad for McFadden, because his best season came in 2010 under Hue Jackson, the new Bengals offensive coordinator who found a way to unleash the back during their time together in Oakland.
But as things have continued to develop, the idea of McFadden in Cincinnati continues to come up. ESPN’s Coley Harvey reports that there are those in the Bengals organization who would like to bring McFadden on board:
A couple of reports earlier this week indicated there wasn’t any connection between McFadden and the Bengals, and that he wasn’t going to Cincinnati. I can’t confirm that, but I do know there are some around the franchise who wouldn’t mind giving him a shot in the stripes.
Now, those few “around the franchise” could very well just be Jackson, but it is not outlandish that others would not mind bringing McFadden on if the price is right.
It absolutely will be.
Look at the market for running backs at the moment—it’s completly silent. The biggest name is Ben Tate, and there has been zilch about him thus far. Big names like Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles, and Knowshon Moreno have little fanfare around their services. Heck, Chris Johnson may be added to the pool as well if Tennessee cannot find a trade partner (which it won’t given how massive CJ2K’s contract is and teams understanding that he will likely hit the open market).
Where does that leave McFadden? He most certainly will not find a starting gig like he probably desires. As a rotational piece, teams may be more willing to invest in one of the names above or a rookie with a higher ceiling, especially with McFadden being a major injury risk who has never played in a full 16-game season.
When the harsh realities of the market set in, McFadden may end up viewing Cincinnati and Jackson as the perfect fit. Getting back together with the man who helped produce his best year as a pro, making decent money, handling maybe 40 percent of the workload in a three-back committee that will help protect his career longevity and possibly contending for a championship does not sound like a horrible fall-back plan for McFadden.
The Bengals don’t need McFadden, but clearly they would have a use for him if he elects to come to town. As much as Giovani Bernard is ready to be unleashed on the NFL, the presence of McFadden reduces the injury risk and reduces the long-term wear and tear on his body (Fans don’t want a 2013 edition of Ray Rice on their hands soon, right?)
Better yet, it is no secret McFadden is an explosive runner and one of the more talented ones in the league when healthy. Now put him behind Cincinnati’s excellent line and let him help to execute the run-first philosophy Jackson is sure to run next season in order to protect Andy Dalton.
What’s not to like?
It is an easy notion to dismiss at the moment, but to completely count out McFadden coming to Cincinnati is premature.