Running back Justin Fargas skipped by the free agent waters passing up the chance to test the market as he signed a new deal with the Raiders. One of the plans this offseason for the cellar dwellers in Oakland were to focus on keeping Fargas in the Bay Area, though a deal was thought to be unexpected because of their high draft choice (3rd/4th overall with Atlanta) that was targeted to select Arkansas standout RB Darren McFadden. He is coming off his first career 1,000-yard rushing performance last season despite starting only seven games.
He began the year as the backup to LaMont Jordan and missed the final two games of the season with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Staying in for a scoring drive in Week 15 while playing hurt, Fargas ended the season like a warrior, as he scored a TD on his final play of ’07 against the Colts. He showed courage and his will to do whatever it takes to help his team win by going above and beyond against Indy.
His 676 yards rushing in his seven starts were the second most in the NFL in that span, trailing only San Diego’s LaDanian Tomlinson (694). He piled up a career-high 179 yards on the ground against Miami in his first game being the featured back. Once he started getting the bulk of the carries, Fargas shined and impressed more than just fantasy owners, as he is now regarded as one of the toughest backs in the league to takedown because of his relentless running style that has him going all-out each and ever play. Fargas is almost impossible to stop when he gets into full gear and his relentless attack on defenders gets him many yards after contact.
Fargas finished the season with 1,009 yards on 222 rushes for an average of 4.5 yards per carry. He also ran for four touchdowns. Fargas became the first player to lead Oakland in rushing for consecutive years since Charlie Garner in 2001-02. He finished with 659 yards rushing last season when LaMont Jordan missed the final six games with a knee injury. He had only 80 carries his first three seasons in the NFL, spending much of the time on the bench before getting his chance the past two seasons.
By keeping Fargas, the Raiders probably will not draft running back Darren McFadden of Arkansas in the April draft. Oakland will have either the third or fourth overall pick, pending a coin flip with Atlanta, and could’ve had a need in the backfield for McFadden if they did not re-sign Fargas. Look for them now to go after LSU’s Glenn Dorsey to replace Warren Sapp at DT.
With that being said, Oakland’s most talented free agent is their lockdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who may become the team’s franchise player if he does not sign a long-term deal. As a franchise player, Asomugha would be guaranteed $9.465 million in 2008. If Asomugha signed with another team, Oakland would have the chance to match the contract or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.