Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Raiders already made their big splash

If you expected a marquee free agency signing or hoped for one like I did, you’re real disappointed with this week’s haul. It’s understandable since the Raiders signed a 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, four defensive starters from non-playoff teams, three reserve skill players you’ve never heard of and a long snapper.

This really shouldn’t be surprising since Oakland prefers to build through the draft. Plus, the Raiders already made their major move in free agency. That was signing head coach Jon Gruden.

Adding Gruden won’t impact the salary cap but it’s the marquee move of the free agent. If you were expecting a big name with dollars to upstage that you were setting yourself up for failure.

Yes, there’s no Suh, Honeybadger or Tru coming despite whatever source said that might happen.

Instead, Oakland will try to grab impact players in the draft. They’ll bank on Gruden coaching up mediocre plays. They will hope a new staff wit structure and scheme will help this team improve naturally.

Hopefully, there right. The regime will need to bat 1000 in the NFL Draft if they hope to construct a Super Bowl roster.

Plus, this team needs to win immediately as they’re facing relocation in a season or two. If this team stumbles out of the gate, expect a ton of hostile fans at home. They will cite this free agency and last season as examples of McKenzie letting them down.

Again, the hope is McKenzie and Gruden are right that they can coach up some average NFL talent. That these veterans are hungry and ready to buy into Gruden’s schemes.

That means all we can do is what and see. Trust the process, no matter how tired of it you are.

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Free Agency Watch and Wish List

Here is a comprehensive list of how the Raiders should value free agents. Free Agency opens today and these players are grouped by the wave. This isn’t necessarily a ranking so much as it shows what players should be a priority as well as their value to the Raiders.

Top Guys

These guys will get the big money and they will get it fast. Oakland will be lucky to get any of them with only about $15 million in cap space and Khalil Mack‘s extension upcoming. This group is ranked by priority.

Mo Wilkerson

Trumaine Johnson

Malcolm Butler

Sheldon Richardson

Allen Robinson

Sammy Watkins

Dontari Poe

Nate Solder

Kenny Vaccaro

Jimmy Graham

Andrew Norwell

Tyler Eifert

Second-Tier Guys who fit a need

This group doesn’t have the same name recognition, age, production or upside but they’re still ballers. Big money will not come for this group as fast as the first tier. Thus, they may take the most money they can get early from a team who really wants them. Otherwise,  they can wait until the market is more stable and a team really needs to spend some money.

Eric Reid

Star Lotulelei

Nigel Bradham

Bashaud Breeland

Aaron Colvin

Tahir Whitehead

Justin Bethel

Nickell Robey-Coleman

Carlos Hyde

Isiah Crowell

Tre Boston

Patrick Robinson

Paul Richardson

Marquis Lee

Zach Brown

Adrian Clayborn

Terrelle Pryor

EJ Gaines

Morris Claiborne

Deshawn Shead

DeMarcco Murray

Bennie Logan

Avery Williamson

Derrick Coleman

Dion Lewis

Peter Warrilow

Todd Davis

This is where the Raiders have made their living in free agency. If the money and team fit is right, Oakland can fill some positions of need by this group that is often overlooked. The Raiders won’t overpay for anyone in this bracket.

Under the Radar Guys for down the line

This group is filled with starting experience. Players in this bracket have proven themselves as starters and key role players. They’ve played at a high level but age, injuries, limited upside and inconsistencies keep them from being in a higher bracket.

Morgan Burnett

Prince Amukamara

Demario Davis

Philip Gaines

DJ Hayden

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Luke Willson

Jerick McKinnon

Jeremy Lane

Brandon Boykin

Jeremy Hill

David Bass

Cody Davis

Cornellius Carradine

Justin Pugh

Bradley McDougald

Benson Mayowa

Pierre Desir

Kendall Wright

Kamar Aiken

Benjamin Ljalana

Kendall Wright

John Brown

Dontrelle Inman

Jaron Brown

Rex Burkhead

Tavon Wilson

Korey Toomer

Cameron Fleming

Charles Simms

Oakland can fill some key starters and depth players from this bargain bin. However, a team who thinks they can put this player in the best position may make one of these players an offer they can not refuse.

On the downswing

Again, these players have proven themselves in the league. However, they will have to continue proving themselves. Unless a team falls in love with one of them or desperately needs to spend money, these players won’t see a ton of cash.

Ron Parker

LeGarrette Blount

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Lamar Houston

Ricky Jean-Francois

Andre Smith

Da’Norris Searcy

Nick Fairley

Virgil Green

Clinton McDonald

Doug Martin

Pernell McPhee

Courtney Upshaw

Akeem Ayers

Davon House

Jerrell Freeman

Tramon Williams

Anthony Fasano

Zach Miller

Quinton Demps

TJ Ward

Alan Branch

Will Hayes

Mike Wallace

Conner Barwin

Tyvon Branch

Jon Sullivan

Matt Slauson

Byron Maxwell

Darius Butler

Eric Decker

Willie Young

Ahtyba Rubin

Shareece Wright

Rashaan Melvin

Sterling Moore

Stephen Peaea

Alfred Morris

Alterraun Verner

Brian Quick

Michael Floyd

Terrance West

Jarvis Jenkins

John Jenkins

James Hurst

Josh Bynes

Will Compton

Lance Dunbar

The biggest difference between this wave of free agency and the previous one is age. Expect these guys to sign contracts after the draft when teams have a better idea of their needs before camp.

Potential

These are the ego signings. A coach will think they are the ones to unlock the potential that this group has shown. Injuries, scheme-fit and inconsistency have placed them in this wave. However, age, flashes and upside put them in this group over some of the others.

Alex Okafor

Donte Moncrief

Jordan Matthews

Barkevious Mingo

Preston Brown

Kony Ealy

Luke Joeckel

Trent Murphy

Albert Wilson

Dominique Easley

Aaron Lynch

Damien Williams

Kevin Minter

Jared Crick

Greg Robinson

Taylor Gabriel

D’anthony Thomas

Marcus Smith

Jeremiah Attaochu

Richard Rodgers

Trey Burton

Anthony Hitchens

Eddie Lacy

Cody Latimer

Some of these players were drafted high. Others were not. Nonetheless, they’re all explosive athletes who were suppossed to dominate the competition. A team might fall in love with that and gamble on them. The Raiders might be one but Oakland will only do it if the price is right and the player fits the culture.

Veterans worth a gamble

Many of these players have earned the right to decide how they want to go out. Money grab and mentorship role with a young team or a reserve role with a contender? Some are more name than game these days.

Derrick Johnson

Julius Peppers

Haloti Ngata

Kyle Williams

Charles Johnson

Pacman Jones

Mike Tolbert

Jonathan Stewart

Elvis Dumervil

Brent Grimes

Johnathan Joseph

Sean Witherspoon

Danny Amendola

Benjamin Watson

Frank Gore

Karlos Dansby

Paul Posluszny

Leon Hall

Martellus Bennett

Not all of these players are Hall of Famers but they’ve all played at a high level and reserve the right to decide what value football has to them. The NFL is not for long and these players will have their value set by other teams. It will be up to them if another season is worth it or not. Either way, Oakland could use their leadership.

If you want to know numbers, positions, and former teams then click on the linked names. Ultimately, this is more big board than it is predictions. Can’t wait to see what the Raiders do when Free Agency opens at Midnight.

 

Gruden and McKenzie Free Agency 2018

This year’s free agency is going to be super interesting. Even more interesting than usual given it will give us our first public taste of the Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie dynamic.

Traditionally, McKenzie and the Raiders sit out the first wave of free agency. Unless, there is a guy RM really wants he usually waits for the big dollars to come out and he spends his money on second-tier players. There are some exceptions like Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson who the Raiders wasted no time persuing. However, it’s more likely that they look at second wave free agents like Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin.

Except, Jon Gruden is in the picture now. Gruden, traditionally loves his veterans. His schemes also demand new team needs. They’ll need a tradional fullback and blocking tight ends. As well as upgrades at the possession receiver and catching back positions. Oakland may prefer to address these needs in the draft.

However, both Gruden and McKenzie need to win now. Las Vegas relocation is creeping up and Oakland is desperate for a contender. McKenzie will need to prove his worth to Gruden too since this will be R.M.’s third regime.

The point is, free agency will be interesting to see the relationship of McKenzie and Gruden play out. How will their different strategies integrate? Will they attack tier one upgrades? Will they wait and add low-budget depth players. Is it a quality or quantity approach? Do they value the players already on their roster?

Justin Ellis

Justin “Jelly Roll” Ellis is a fan favorite of the Raiders largely due to his name as well as him being a part of the infamous 2014 Raiders draft class that is the foundation to this team. Ellis got a 3-year, $15 million contract ($6 million guaranteed) before he hit the open market.

At face value, this is Oakland re-signing a part of the No. 12 ranked run defense. This is rewarding home grown talent which is something the Raiders have done under McKenzie. It is even more important given Eddie Vanderdoes torn ACL and uncertain future.

However, Ellis finally played himself into shape in a contract year. He hasn’t progressed much as a pass rusher or run stopper over the past few years. Neither is he a great fit for the new regime.

Plus, it is expected that the $6 million in guarantees will be all upfront for Ellis. That means he’ll be making a salary close to what Bennie Logan and Dontari Poe signed last year. He neither has the name recognition or production to warrant that contract.

This is not an indictment on Ellis. He’s a solid player and good rotational defensive lineman. It is not his fault the Raiders offered him this contract.

Nonetheless, why wouldn’t McKenzie and the Raiders let the market tell them Ellis’ value? It’s unlikely he gets that deal anywhere else. Moreover, big-name tackles like Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Poe could’ve been signed with this similar number in mind. They would’ve been considerable upgrades too.

Overall, Ellis’ contract gives us precedent on what to expect for Denico Autry and T.J. Carrie. Both players were also key contributors for the Raiders over the past few seasons. Both will hit the open market and it will be interesting to see if Oakland will overpay them or let them leave. I’d argue that both those players deserve more than Ellis so it will be interesting to see if they get more or less in free agency.

Lastly, the Raiders have to ink Khalil Mack at some point. Mack wanted Ellis back but will Jelly’s money make it harder to cash out Mack? Either way, the Raiders got to lock Mack up before the Rams pay Aaron Donald. Donald is another DPOY from the 2014 class and he will set the market higher than Mack if he is signed first. Either player will use the other’s contracts as the baseline for the new extension. Thus, the Rams and Raiders are in a sort of arms race to re-sign their defensive franchise player before the other sets the market stupid high.

 

Jon Gruden headlines the Combine

Jon Gruden made headlines at the NFL Combine this week. It was largely due to his interview at the NFL Combine.

Gruden said he loves Raiders player Michael Crabtree and many more. The new head coach called out other former draft picks like Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu and others. He also knocked down GPS and said he wants to take football back.

Ultimately, it is really not important what Gruden said. He’s been on record saying most of what he already said including players he’s counting on, an emphasis on the strength of his coaching staff, his frustration with new rules and his happiness to be back coaching. The issue is that he keeps saying.

Gruden isn’t in the media anymore. It’s not his job to entertain or give quotes. His job is to win the Raiders games.

Jon himself has said that he hasn’t met many of the players on the roster who they will have to make decisions about. He’s also admitted that he has to catch up and get into the grind. He understand the business side of the NFL too.

The point is, Gruden is setting himself up to fail if he’s making promises he can not deliver. If he doesn’t know if a player will back, he shouldn’t say it. Gruden also shouldn’t promise featuring every single skill player and highlight that he wants to get them ball. They will look at him sideways if he can’t or doesn’t deliver.

That doesn’t look good to future rookies and free agents. Remember, the new players know Gruden more for his stint on Monday Night Football than his time on Oakland’s sideline. They will have to see him as a coach but that won’t be easy considering he’s moving from the outside. Not delivering on promises will kill Gruden’s credibility before he gains it.

Further, Gruden doesn’t need to make himself look anymore dated. Between the comments about GPS, analytics and gripes about the new rules, Gruden does not need to do anything else to make him seem out of touch. He’s going to keep seeming like the back in my dead head coach with anymore comments.

Ultimately, Gruden could be playing the media. He could make it seem like he is or is not talking to players, He could play coy like he is struggling to adapt to analytics, policies and technology. Gruden is just smarter than us all and making people underestimate him and the Raiders Otherwise, these are all facts and the Raiders have a long road ahead them.

Regardless, the point is Gruden doesn’t need to say anything. He doesn’t have to promise players camp auditions or more play calls. He doesn’t need to gripe about changes in polices or technology. He just needs to win games.

As much as I hated the coach speak from Jack Del Rio, Gruden’s quote vomiting brings its own issues. It is setting expectations for players and fans but Gruden hasn’t and can’t do anything about these words. Sure, its the offseasons and it is all fluff but that doesn’t mean Gruden has to buy in. If Gruden wants accountability and a tight-lipped culture he better set the example. We’ve all had enough of his Monday Night Football quotes. It’s to Just Win Baby

 

 

The Marcus Peters Effect

Marcus Peters got traded to the Los Angeles Rams which should make them one of the best defenses in the NFL.

For Raiders fans, addition by subtraction is what they say when a three-time pro bowler leaves your division. However, when it is a 25-year-old, Oakland-native traded for a second-rock pick there are some serious questions about why?

The narrative is that Peters was a a cancer in the locker room including his time at Washington. He had an altercation with the Raiders in 2017. He almost got kicked out for throwing a referee flag last season. Still, Peters did not have a problem with the Chiefs. They’re moving in a new direction as a team anyways.

Regardless, Peters is a top talent in the NFL. The 28 teams who passed on Peters did themselves a disservice including the Raiders. Finding a second round player who can instantly impact games likes Peters is a long shot. It’s laughable to think that was the highest comepensation.

Peters is an athlete who changes games with his abilities to create turnovers. Oakland desperately needs that kind of impact in the back end as their consistently ranked towards the bottom in pass defense and turnovers.

As for the Raiders, their trade history is non-existent under Reggie McKenzie. It would have been nice for them to take a chance on a player like Peters for a second round investment. Their history of second round draft picks under Reggie McKenzie like Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards Jr. and Menelik Watson have not had half the impact Peters has had or will have.

Additionally, Oakland will look to add a corner in the draft or free agency. Trading for Peters would’ve fulfilled a need in less time than a rookie and for less money than free agency.

Of course, the Raiders and Chiefs are unlikely to make a trade since their both in the AFC West. Peters’ questionable incidents and upcoming payday also make him a risky investment. Still, the Raiders should’ve considered the Oakland native and proven commodity.

It makes sense that the division rivals couldn’t come to a agreement. However, the Raiders should not have let an all-pro corner in his prime slip from their grips. It was a move  that was unlikely for the Raiders.

Nonetheless, it is disappointing that they officially let this trade happen under their nose. Oh well, I guess we will all watch Peters dominate as a Ram. Hopefully, the Raiders can get their own corner position filled out now.