After six seasons in Oakland, running back Darren McFadden's time with the Raiders appears as though it could be coming to an end. He might have a home in Cincinnati though, where his former head coach Hue Jackson is the Bengals' new offensive coordinator.
On Friday, Jackson spoke with ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game in San Francisco about the possibility of a reunion with McFadden:
"You guys know how I feel about Darren McFadden; he's still one of my favorite players," Jackson told ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game in San Francisco on Friday.
"What a tremendous talent. But I really like my little guy Gio [Bernard]. He had a real good season. But I don't think you can ever have too many good backs."
Jackson spent just two seasons with the Raiders, but they were two of McFadden's best as the former-first round pick racked up 11 rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and 2,432 total yards of offense in 20 games. In Cincinnati, he could join a rushing attack that finished eighth in rushing yardage and third in touchdowns.
However, Jackson's comments on Friday could come back to bite the Bengals, as they would certainly seem to be in violation of the NFL's Anti-Tampering Policy. No representative of an organization (a coach in this case) is allowed to make a statement of interest in another club's player.
"Somebody's going to get a really good football player here in the future if he doesn't stay there in Oakland and I just wish him the best."
There's definitely an argument that Jackson's comments qualify as interest, and if that's the case, the Bengals could be forced to send the Raiders "a draft pick or two," according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
The Detroit Lions were found guilty of tampering in February 2011 and forced to forfeit a seventh-round pick as well as trade fifth-round picks with the Kansas City Chiefs. While a comment about the Chiefs from defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham to the media was originally believed to be the source of the charge, it was later revealed that the team had "impermissible contact" with safety Jarrad Page (either directly or through his agent) while he was still with the team, before he was eventually traded to the New England Patriots.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell similarly found the San Francisco 49ers guilty of tampering in 2008 for contacting the agent of Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs during the 2007 season, resulting in a forfeiture of the team's fifth-round pick.
That suggests that the Raiders might have to prove that Jackson did more than just comment about McFadden to draw tampering charges, as "impermissible contact" has been the only tampering violation that has resulted in penalties in the last decade.
McFadden played in 10 games in 2013, starting in seven, as he tallied 379 yards rushing and five touchdowns for the Raiders.