Monthly Archives: March 2016

Oakland Raiders dominate Free Agency

The Oakland Raiders caught everyone’s attention by signing corner Sean Smith, lineman Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Bruce Irvin.

Unlike past years, it was a refreshing feeling to sign the players that the Raiders were connected to. Best of all, the Raiders signed versatile and hardworking players without overpaying.

I’ll admit the Raiders even exceed my own fanatic expectations. Clearly, the Raiders are building something that people will buy into.

Osemele said the team is committed to the trenches. Smith said the power is shifting in the AFC West. Irvin is busy trying to recruit other free agents like Eric Weddle and Donald Penn.

The self-proclaimed Baby Reggie is finding ways to spend the leftover $34 million.

Raiders need to sign Donald Penn

Speaking of spending, the Raiders need to resign Donald Penn. Do not get it twisted.

Penn is a huge reason behind last season’s resurgence. He held down the left tackle position the past two years.

Granted, I do not like paying Osemele $12 million as a guard. He started six games at left tackle for the Ravens. He has enough athleticism to do the same for the Raiders. However, why not continue Penn in the role if the price is right?

The price should be right considering he said Oakland is the lead to keep him, even after they signed Osemele.

Raiders must fill other holes.

The Raiders are going hard at Weddle. They need at least one safety via free agency. Hopefully Weddle is that guy considering he is the best available.

The Raiders still need some help at offensive line, running back and middle linebacker. A pass rusher might also help.

Oakland could fill those needs in the draft. However, they are hot so why not ride out the momentum?

Chris Long, Jerrell Freeman, Rashad Johnson and Geoff Schwartz are names to keep an eye on.

 

 

Oakland Raiders: Free Agency Blueprint

The Oakland Raiders regime consistently adds competition to their roster through Free Agency. The Raiders will continue this trend by addressing each need with a capable starter or solid backup.

This formula helps steady the blue-worker culture of Jack Del Rio’s roster. It saves owner Mark Davis money by not cashing huge checks for any single Free Agent. Plus it gives general Manager Reggie McKenzie freedom in the draft.

Here is how the Raiders can win the NFL offseason, as the official NFL new year begins with the opening of Free Agency. Expect them to hone in on the running game and pass defense in the 2016 offense. They worked on run defense and passing attack last year.

1. Resign Donald Penn

The Raiders need someone ready to grow Derek Carr and Amari Cooper on offense. Unfortunately, that guy is not in free agency. The closest thing is Russell Okung, but he is not worth spending big bucks on. Also, count the Raiders out of the bidding war for Osmele.

It seems unlikely Penn returns because the sides could have signed a deal during the season. However, he is the perfect two year stop gap as the team drafts his replacement.

2. Sign a linebacker

The Raiders can cut Curtis Lofton now or before the season. Either way the team needs to upgrade the linebacker position. These players could be found in the draft. However, this talent group is top heavy at the position. Add  Danny Travathan, Jerrell Freeman or Bruce Irvin. Good age and plenty of experience. The Raiders got the cash to make this fast and easy.

They may also select a linebacker in the draft. Regardless, signing a starting caliber linebacker is a priority.

3. Grab some safeties

Forget your opinion on Nate Allen. Plus, Taylor Mays and Larry Asante are best as special teams. Therefore, the Raiders need to add at least two safeties via the draft or free agency.

The Raiders will make a run on a starting safety like Eric Weddle, Tashaun Gipson or George Iloka. After locking one up, they’ll add a fringe starter to the mix like Sean Richardson, Walter Thurmond, Hussain Abdullah or Michael Griffin.

4. Add a pass rusher or two

It is the old chicken or egg debate. What came first, the poor secondary or poor pass rush? I know the Raiders pass rush was decent last year, but expect the team to build on the strength. Del Rio and McKenzie both like building teams from the inside out.

Olivier Vernon and Malik Jackson spark a lot of interest for the Raiders. However, Oakland will probably pass on their high price tags. The Raiders should try adding someone like Jason Pierre-Paul on a fair market deal. That could move Khalil Mack into full-time linebacker duty. Either way that is an upgrade to the pass rush.

Otherwise the group can add some bargain bin veterans via the Justin Tuck role. How about Mario Williams or Chris Long? Both players could play all along the defensive line or rush the passer standing up. Charles Johnson might also be someone they add later in the process.

5. Add an offensive guard.

I am willing to believe this unit believes in John Feliciano. That is why they will not pay Osmele $10 million a yer to play guard. Osmele is not the answer at left tackle either, despite him starting a few games there last season.

The Raiders could still add a quality starter at the position. This could include Alex Boone, Jeff Allen or Ramon Foster. Otherwise they will probably take a flier on a veteran like Jahri Evans or Geoff Schwartz. This atleast gives them another year or two to develop Feliciano.

6. Bring in a corner

The Raiders will probably be linked to high end corners like Sean Smith and Prince Amukamara. However, they will probably see what they have in the trio of T.J. Carrie, D.J. Hayden and David Amerson. All three are young enough for another season of consideration. Adding some pass rush will help this group out.

Nonetheless, the Raiders will still sign some talent at the position. They’ll extend serious interest to Casey Heyward, Jeremy Lane, Morris Claiborne or Brandon Boykin early.  Heyward is the best of that group by far, but the rest of the guys could prove themselves in the Raiders secondary. As a consolation prize, the Raiders may give Leon Hall, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson or Leonis McKelvin one last shot at playing time.

7. Add some skill players

The Raiders should express some interest in young position skill guys. The Raiders are more talented at running back and receiver than past years. However, they can still add a young player to push the incumbents at receiver or running back. Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews and Marvin Jones should be in the Raiders spending. Anquan Boldin, Roddy White or Brandon LaFell might also bring their last bit of gas to the organization. The Raiders need another deep threat to replace Andre Holmes. Adding a big receiver could also spell Amari Cooper into the slot.

At running back it is much of the same. Some okay veterans and okay starters. The Raiders like Latavius Murray off of a Pro Bowl year. The team won’t overpay for Doug Martin or Lamar Miller despite how beast of a compliment they would be for Murray. Ronnie Hillman or CJ Anderson make sense as they are both young. James Starks or Arian Foster will be connected to the organization. No matter who they sign, the Raiders should also add a runner from the top five rounds of the draft. Unless they strike gold with Martin, Miller or Matt Forte.

8. Draft the best player available

The Raiders have no need to reach for a position in the draft. McKenzie does a good job at letting the draft play out. He will do the same by drafting the best overall talent in the draft.

Expect any player the Raiders draft to compete for a starting position. I predict the team will use two of its’ first three picks on defense. That is only if a really good running back or tackle falls into a position they can not resist.

9. Bring back key players

Keep Denico Autry, Seth Roberts and any other players they like from last season. That includes guys who might become career back ups like Tony Bergstrom, Khalif Barnes or Matt McGloin. I’m not oppossed to keeping Matt McCants, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Taylor Mays, Neiko Thorpe or anyone else that got significant time last year. If someone else does not value them, give them at least a shot in camp. The Raiders need these guys for role positions, and they played with lots of heart in 2015.

Finally, sign Aldon Smith. Make it Happen. He is too talented to let go.

MY predictions:

  1. Sign Donald Penn
  2. Sign Danny Travathan
  3. Sign Tashaun Gipson and Sean Richardson
  4. Sign Jeff Allen
  5. Sign Jeremy Lane
  6. Sign Chris Long
  7. Sign Jermaine Kearse and CJ Anderson
  8. Draft: T. Decker, Robert Nkemdiche, Paul Perkins, Scooby Wright, Best corner, best receiver, best corner or safety.
    1. Rankins or Nkemdiche are my favorite pickers here. However this is not a bad spot for Jason Spriggs, Ronnie Staley or Taylor Decker depending on Pro Days.
    2. If Nkemdiche or Jaylon Smith land here they are two talented to let fall past the Raiders in round two. Otherwise Kenny Clark, Dorian Thompson or Deion Jones could fit here.
    3. Paul Perkins is my favorite of the second tire backs in this class. Great pass catching option. Otherwise C.J. Prosise or Tyler Ervin comes into play here also.
    4. Best linebacker, linemen or corner in this spot depending on the rest of the draft. A good defensive player like Wright might find himself here.
    5. Draft remains the same through next 3 rounds. Just add some athletes. Maybe a high ceiling guy like Rashard Robinson.

 

 

Ultimately, the Raiders will continue their trend upwards with this draft. They add plenty of B and C plus signings before killing the NFL Draft. This team would definitely compete in the NFL Playoffs.

Free Agency Radar and Big Board

Finally, free agency. The Oakland Raiders bring the second most cap to the party at just over $70 million.

The team will look to build on last year’s success by adding starters and players who can immediately compete. Although the Raiders found key players at key positions, they still have many wholes on their rosters.

Below is a list of free agents the Raiders should target. Omitted are their own free agents. Notice the list is build from the inside out, because the team will build the trenches first.

These players are ranked based on age, dollars, injuries, scheme fit and play, as well as team need.

Offensive Line
Kelchi Osmele
Russell Okung
Alex Boone
Alex Mack
Brandon Brooks
Jeff Allen
Andre Smith
Anthony Davis
Ramon Foster
Geoff Schwartz
Mitchell Schwartz 
Kelvin Beachum
Jermon Bushrod
Richie Incognito
Jahri Evans
Evan Mathis
 
 
Defensive Line
Malik Jackson
Oliver Vernon
Jason Pierre-Paul
Damon Harrison
Jaye Howard
Chris Long
Mario Wiliams
Tamba Hali
Robert Ayers
Steve McLendon
Nick Fairley
Terrance Knighton
Haloti Ngata
Derrick Shelby
Adrian Clayborn
Charles Johnson
William Hayes
BJ Raji
Ahtyba Rubin
 
Linebackers
Danny Trevathan
Bruce Irvin 
Derrick Johnson
Jerell Freeman
James Laruinaitis
Nick Perry 
Tahir Whitehead
Sean Weatherspoon
Steve Tollach
Demeco Ryans
Chad Greenway
Safeties
George Illoka
Tashaun Gipson
Eric Weddle
Rodney McLeod
Mark Barron
Sean Richardson
Reggie Nelson
William Moore
Walter Thurmond
Rahim Moore
Husain Abdullah
Rashad Johnson
Louis Delmas
 
Coners
Sean Smith
Janoris Jenkins
Prince Amukamara
Casey Hayward
Jeremy Lane
Antonio Cromartie
Brandon Boykin
Adam Jones
Morris Claiborne
Leon Hall
Leodis McKelvin
Jerraud Powers
Kyle Wilson
 
Receivers
Travis Benjamin
Rishard Matthews
Rueben Randle
Marvin Jones 
Jermaine Kearse
Roddy White
Brandon Lafell
Anquan Boldin
Marques Colston
Greg Jennings
Andre Johnson
Nate Washington 
Mohamed Sanu 
Brian quick
Percy Harvin
 
Running Backs
Lamar Miller
Doug Martin
Matt Forte
Chris Ivory
Alfred Morris
CJ Anderson
Ronnie Hillman
Charcandrick West
Arian Foster
Joique Bell
James Starks
Chris Polk
Tim Hightower
Bryce Brown

Should they stay or go?

Free Agency begins next week and it is time for the Oakland Raiders to decide which players will return. The team already put a long-term investment into punter Marquette King, but who is next?

King earned every dollar of his new contract. How many times did he bail the offense out with a booming punt? Plus, the punter always reps Oakland in the community.

In the end, tough decisions are always made in free agency. However, this free agency the Raiders must prove they can build on last season’s momentum. Expect them to free up roster places for talented players that meet Jack Del Rio’s long-term vision.

Stay

Donald Penn, Offensive Tackle

Penn should stay because the Raiders do not have many better options in free agency. Cordy Glenn got franchised tagged. Russell Okung is younger but not necessarily an upgrade. The Raiders should keep Penn for another year or two, so he can train his replacement.

Khalif Barnes, Offensive Linemen

Barnes is one of the tenured players on the team. The Raiders hold more than $70 million in cap space. Give Barnes another one-year deal. Dude has plenty of starting experience at every position on the offensive line, outside of center.

Denico Autry, Defensive Linemen

Autry came on once Mario Edwards Jr. and Justin Tuck were both side lined. Give the young player another year. He brings versatility across the Raiders defensive line. He can play inside or outside.

Seth Roberts, Receiver

Roberts scored all of his touchdowns in Raiders wins. See Autry

Tony Bergstrom, Center

I doubt he has much of a market. However, Bergstrom played decent when thrust into the starting center role this season. Give him a short term deal.

Go

Taylor Mays, Safety

Mays found a role in the defense late. He played better in a hybrid linebacker/safety role. However, the team is better off giving those reps to a younger player.

Larry Asante, Safety

See Mays

Neiko Thorpe, Corner

Thorpe also got some run because of injuries. He looked good at times, and he could be a nice depth option. He is still young also. However, he could easily be replaced. He might even get resigned but released before the final roster.

Benson Mayowa, Edge

See Thorpe

Shelby Harris, Edge

Dude keeps floating between the practice squad and active roster. Expect him to look for another opportunity.

Rod Streater, Receiver

Streater was once our team’s best receiver. He is a good guy, but those days are gone. It might be best for all parties to move on.

Andre Holmes, Receiver

He helped the team in the redzone and the deep passing game. However, his role and production dropped off last season compared to 2014. Expect him to find a bigger role elsewhere.

J’Marcus Webb, Guard

BYYYYYYEEEEEEEEE

Add any other free agents not listed here.

Cut

Curtis Lofton, Linebacker

Our big free agency acquisition could not even keep his job last season. Find a replacement in the draft or free agency, and then cut Lofton.

Marcel Reece, Full back

Beyond his 3 game suspension, Reece already faced a diminishing role. Don’t get me wrong, Reece is a great guy and Raider. However, the Raiders barely use a fullback. Jamize Olawale is a capable starter anyways. Maybe we can trade Reece for a late draft pick?