Maurice Jones-Drew just signed a three-year-deal with the Oakland Raiders and thus becomes the latest to join what is the modern version of the 1973 Washington Redskins ‘Over The Hill Gang’ of established NFL stars. Maurice Jones-Drew is 29 years old, has been injured much of his career, and was someone the Jags were not fighting to keep. He joins Matt Schaub (32), Justin Tuck (30), LaMarr Woodley (29), Tarell Brown (29), Antonio Smith (32), James Jones (29), Donald Penn (30), and Kevin Boothe (30). Of them, only Austin Howard, at 27, is one who can be said to be a young player with an established upside, rather than a middle-aged player – at that, he has one more year before he becomes just that.
Marice Jones-Drew joins Darren McFadden to form the most injury-prone running back duo in NFL history. The real challenge will be to see if both last the 2014 NFL season, because what the Raiders are obviously banking on is that one or the other will last, but not both of them.
The Oakland Raiders Playing The Name Game
Marice Jones-Drew, who gained over 800 yards in 2013, and just over 400 the year before, has seen better years, and that can be said for most of the Raiders Free Agents except for Justin Tuck and for Tarell Brown. But the Oakland Raiders are playing the name game: getting established stars not just to win, but to help fill seats at the Oakland Coliseum. How else to justify this reach back into a strategy of another time?
The Raiders should have followed my approach, which would have been to get young players not older than 27, and who had obvious established upside potential. Yes, you’d get a ton of names you never heard of unless you paid attention to the pro game, but then you’d get players who would become the established stars of the team.
You would also get players fast enough to keep up with the trend toward speed on offense and defense. This Oakland Raiders squad reads one thing to me: slow!
I am really concerned about this approach; let’s see how it plays out.