The Bengals need to take a chance on Darren McFadden

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Most view Darren McFadden as the epitome of risk. After being drafted fourth overall in 2008, the Arkansas running back has yet to play out an entire season. In fact, he’s only started more than seven games twice in his six years in the NFL. Still, while his career has been marred by injuries, his natural talent has continued to seep through the cracks.

Aside from Adrian Peterson, there is no other rusher in the NFL that displays the same levels of speed, agility and brute force that McFadden does. That being said, those electric abilities have only been seen in glimpses, and now, after two severely disappointing years, McFadden is set to leave Oakland at his lowest value ever.

Unless he is willing to play for dirt cheap, the Raiders have made it fairly clear that they are unwilling to resign what once was their franchise back. Around the NFL, the sentiment is the same.

“I’d never sign McFadden. Yes, he oozes talent – but he will break your heart,” said Adam Schein of NFL.com. “This is not a case of a player merely needing a change of scenery – needing to get out of Oakland – and waiting to hit his potential. You can’t bank on him.”

There’s no doubt that McFadden will eventually end up finding a home, but it’s going to take a team who’s not only willing to accept the risk, but can also handle the consequences. A team like the Cincinnati Bengals.

In actuality, this should almost be a non-risk situation for the Bengals. McFadden is a fragile yet elite talent whom can be signed for a very low price. A price in which the Bengals can most definitely afford under their $26.9 million in cap space, which should jump to nearly $30 million with the release of Benjarvus Greene-Ellis.

Likewise, the Bengals don’t need McFadden to be any more than a complimentary back. Giovani Bernard is the future in Cincinnati. The worst case scenario is that McFadden provides five to eight games of quality rushing before losing the rest of his season with an injury. The best case scenario is that McFadden revitalizes his career with a standout campaign, and ends up succeeding Bernard as the starting running back after playing the entire season.

If the Bengals can sign McFadden to a cheap one-year deal, which they should be able to do, there really is no downside. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn’t work, then it was worth the risk and they can cut bait at the end of the season.

This is all without mentioning that Hue Jackson, the Bengals offensive coordinator, was Oakland’s head coach in 2011, and is one of McFadden’s biggest supporters. That year, McFadden had one of his best stretches, averaging 5.4 yards a carry, while rushing for 614 yards and four touchdowns in just seven games.

The McFadden-Jackson relationship is not important because of the production they obtained, but simply because it may be the link that motivates McFadden, who is looking to revitalize his career, to possibly take a smaller paycheck in hopes of playing for an organization that will support him.

At only 26-years old, McFadden would be a perfect fit in Cincinnati.


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