Monthly Archives: April 2014
Here is a column I wrote for my school paper.
NFL teams began their quest for Super Bowl XLIX Tuesday with the beginning of offseason training activities (OTA). OTAs are teams’ first opportunity to welcome new players and assimilate them with team culture.
The defending champion Seattle Seahawks added one more new addition, by exchanging a seventh round pick in this year’s draft to the Oakland Raiders for quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Oakland’s short-lived Pryor saga comes to an official end, despite Pryor’s show of promise as playcaller.
His departure signifies the end of an era, as Pryor was the last player ever selected by Al Davis, Raiders’ legendary owner and figurehead. Davis selected Pryor in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft, after Pryor was suspended for a well known violation of NCAA rules.
Davis died later that season and would never see Pryor play a down of football. Neither would Davis be able to develop Pryor into the running and passing threat Davis envisioned when he selected him.
In fact, The Oakland Raiders never did Pryor any real justice as the developmental quarterback of the future.
The same year as Pryor’s selection, the team acquired Cincinnati Bengals “retired” quarterback Carson Palmer for an attempt at a playoff run. Exchanging a first and second round pick for Palmer sealed the team’s fate to the former Bengals’ quarterback for a season and half, while Pryor mainly sat on the bench.
Last off season, the Raiders said goodbye to Palmer, and added Seattle’s then back-up quarterback Matt Flynn. Then the team drafted a quarterback in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, and signed undrafted free agent Matt McGloin. However, Pryor successfully won the starting position, despite coaches handing Flynn the job initially.
Even after winning the job and almost upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in week 1 with a record-setting performance, Pryor was benched in favor of McGloin, after a knee injury and struggles with defenses’ adjustments to his running ability.
This off season, the Raiders traded for veteran Matt Schaub to be their starter. Combined with the Raiders interest in quarterback prospects in the draft and their fascination with McGloin, the Pryor trade was a foreseen conclusion.
The Oakland Raiders are lucky to have even gotten a seventh round pick for Pryor. The media and NFL knew Pryor had requested for a trade. It was not a secret that Pryor and Raiders’ head coach Dennis Allen did not mesh well. Pryor’s preference to improvise with running plays always seemed to throw Allen’s game plan for a loop.
Whether or not Pryor succeeds in the league, it was time for the Raiders to move on from Pryor. The team believes in Schaub and McGloin enough that Pryor’s play making ability would have wasted on the bench.
It is a shame the Raiders bid the 24-year-old goodbye, because he showed promise in his first few starts. Sure Pryor struggled in his first season starting, but the Raiders never gave the raw prospect a real chance at growth from the experience the same way other current Pro Bowlers have been given early in their career. The Raiders need offensive play makers, but they effectively traded away one of their best.
As for the Seahawks, they added a play maker for a bargain price. Having coached at USC when Pryor was dominating high School and college football, Carroll is familiar with the type of person Pryor is. Seeing an inevitable release from the Raiders, the Seahawks would not have given the Raiders a draft pick for Pryor if they didn’t think he added something to their team.
Until the Raiders, Pryor never had anyone work on his quarterback mechanics. Having relied on his athletic ability throughout his playing career, Pryor had a substantial learning curve. Yet Pryor’s god-given talent and size makes his ceiling unlimited.
Even with the turmoil in Oakland, Pryor never complained or made excuses. He showed his skin as a true competitor and deserves to be in a situation where he can develop as a quarterback.
Pryor joins a unique Seahawks’ culture which inspires competition, at every level. No, Pryor will not end up as the starter, because that is young phenom Russell Wilson’s job. Yet, Pryor could easily unseed Tarvaris Jackson as the back-up, and excel if Wilson were ever to go down with an injury.
Added, Pryor’s unique skill set gives the Seahawks another running option in scoring situations. Plus, his size and ability resembles a quarterback the Seahawks play twice a year in San Francisco 49er’s Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks can use Pryor’s dual-threat skills to prepare for their division rivals, the 49ers.
Seattle offers a scenario for Pryor that he never had in Oakland. Pryor finally has an opportunity to develop. Not only does the Seahawk’s offense suit Pryor’s ability, but he can learn from Carroll and Wilson without pressure to produce. Either Way, Pryor’s opportunity in Seattle may be his last chance to live up to the hype generated from his playing days at Ohio State.
Even if Pryor does not fit with the Seahawks, and they are unable to utilize his potential then they can simply cut him. The Pryor trade offers Seattle a high-reward playmaker at a low-risk price.
The marquee names and signings have already been sucked out of the Free Agency Market. Yet, the Raiders were a team desperate for depth last season, combined with raised expectations from management and fans, the Raiders could do well to continue looking at the Free Agent Market. Most of the players available are young players looking for one more chance to disprove the bust label or veterans looking for one last pay day. There are plenty of guys with injury or off-field concerns, but could be low risk-high reward additions. Considering they still have some of the most money available to spend, here are five of the best free agents who could fufill a need.
1. Anthony Spencer DE/OLB Cowboys
Two seasons ago, Spencer racked double digit sacks playing across from Demarcus Wate. His career in Dallas rewarded him with consecutive franchise tags, but that ended once he suffered a season ending knee injury. Something must not be right healthwise, for Spencer to still be available. However, Spencer maintains value as a pass rusher. Evident by the Raiders attempt to lure Jared Allen, they are not afraid to stack pass rushers. Spencer fits the 30 year-old, something to prove veteran player build Reggie McKenzie has acquired all free agency. He possess value as a right end behind Justin Tuck, a LEO behind Woodley, or even a Sam LB behind Sio Moore. Spencer’s versatility could be had for a bargain price now, as he continues to heal up. Jason Tarver could do well having SPencer at his disposal for any of the mentioned relief roles. Could also push those guys for playing time, either way the Raiders can not have enough Depth up-front.
2. Kevin Williams DT Vikings
Kevin Williams has spent his entire career stuffing the run, racking up pro-bowls, and being a constant professional for the Minnesota Vikings. Williams has not turned his cheek on the Vikings, but seeing their acquisitions paints the picture on the wall. The Raiders did well, re-upping with run stuffer Pat Simms, but he has nowhere near the decorated career Williams holds. As mentioned before, the Raiders need bodies up-front, and Kevin Williams is still a big and capable one technique. Having him rotate with simms should give the Raiders no excuse for not dominating against the run. Williams may still have enough to bounce into the 3 technique and really scare some interior linemen.
3. Pat Agerer ILB Colts
The former second round pick of the colts has struggled to stay on the field. Signing him would mean the Raiders are banking on his health, but even if he gets hurt again, the Raiders could simply cut him. Adding Agerer would keep Nick Roach honest by having competition. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, you either love or hate Roach, but having Agerer as an alternate would improve the Raiders Defense. If Agerer pans out the two could be used in combination as inside backers in 3-4 fronts, or Roach could move back to his natural position, Weakside Backer.
4. Terrance Cody NT Ravens
Cody has not been the dominate nose tackle he was suppossed to be since being drafted from Alabama. He is still a huge presence (literally) and only 27 years old. Maybe he can finally become motivated to be the player her was suppossed to be. Adding him as a true Nose Tackle will insure blocks will be eaten up(not literally), which is good considering our linebackers are not the best at taking up blocks. Cody will probably never be a great pass rusher, considering he has never registered a sack, but his size could mean freeing up other blockers for runs at the QB in Tarvers scheme.
5. Thomas DeCoud Safety Falcons
There are a lot of starts still available in the Safety Market. However, their is also a lot of age as well. DeCloud sticks out because he is only 29 years old and has a pro-bowl to his name. Last season was a downer in Atlanta, but he should be able to compete with Usama Young for Charles Woodson’s relief and Special Teams play. Why make a move for another safety? Woodson is not getting any younger, and Usama Young suffered a long injury last season. Young could do well with a little competition from DeCloud.
Disclaimer: I left out guys like Erin Henderson and Fred Davis because even though they have talent, McKenzie’s track record shows he is not a fan of off-field baggage. Added Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow were left off for their big heads not fitting the culture of the Raiders. Jermichael Finley has to be cleared before I consider him if I am the Raiders. Darryn Colledge was the next name to not make this list. Colledge is familar with McKenzie from Green Bay, but the Raiders have already added so much OLine, I am not sure if more help is on the way.
Other notables: Adrian Wilson, Yeremiah Bell, Terrell Thomas, Miles Austin, Sidney Rice,Quintin mikell Davin Joseph, Harvey Dahl, Uche Nwaheri, Daryn Colledge.
All in all, I think the Raiders will probably wait until the draft before adding more free agents. I am sure they want to see how the draft pans out before adding more depth acquisitions