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Revisiting Raiders’ Key Free Agent Signings and Draft Implications

Rodney Hudson

The Raiders had to spend on someone. Hudson was the Raiders only marquee signing and got almost 9 million a year. The center is one of PFF top rated centers and is just entering his prime. He should be the middle anchor of the offensive line and Derek Carr’s key protector.

Draft Implications: Center was not the biggest positional need for the Raiders. Even if Hudson is a clear upgrade over the regressing Wisniewski, the Raiders still need help in the interior offensive line. They gave versatile Khalif Barnes and extension but giving him competition at right guard should be a draft priority.

Dan Williams

No his name is not Suh or Pot Roast. We have heard all about how Dan Williams being among leaders for QB hurries and being a better run defender than Knighton. Well he isn’t the big name, Williams is the big presence to anchor the defense. Expect him to move all over the defensive line as the Raiders try to get their best four guys on the field between Justin Tuck, Williams, Antonio Smith, Justin Ellis, and whoever plays left end.

Draft Implications: Free Agency proves Jack Del Rio wants to build both sides of the ball inside out. Williams addition sures up the tackle position but their is still a need for someone who can legitimately rush the quarterback from a three point stance. Well tackle is not the need, do not be surprised if the Raiders take the best player available if Leonard Williams is there at No. 4. JDR wants a stout middle and L. Williams could easily be best prospect in entire draft.  

Nate Allen

Allen had a down year last season for the Eagles. Still, he is an upgrade over Usama Young and Brandin Ross. Considering both the draft and free agency safety classes were thin, it should be no surprised Allen cashed out. The good news is, Allen is versatile enough to play either safety position so he should be savy enough to mesh with Charles Woodson. As long as he doesn’t have the same injury history as Tyvon Branch it will be an Upgrade.

Draft Implications: Safety class is so weak in this draft. Still the Raiders need an eventual replacement for Woodson. Added, Allen is not elite so competition will not hurt him. Raiders should still consider the best safety available in the final days of the draft. Otherwise Keith McGill could be a candidate for a move to safety?

Curtis Lofton

Lofton was Cut after just one season with the Saints. Regardless, he is on the right side of thirty and has consistently racked up tackles each season. Lofton sures up the middle of the defense for the Raiders as long as he can stay health.

Draft Implications: It is a shame the Raiders put such a priority into middle linebacker because this class is deep. However, McKenzie, Del Rio, and Norton are former linebackers so I am sure they will take a chance on someone in the late rounds. They will probably be a special teamer, but RM will take one if they are best player available. Eitherway, the position went from weakness to strength.

Malcom Smith

Smith’s addition was probably the most intriguing of all the signings. Is the former Super Bowl Player a Sam, Will, or Mike? Or is he just a back up relegated to special teams? Whatever the case he is great insurance should Sio Moore suffer anymore injury and could be used in four linebacker sets with Moore, Mack and Lofton. Reuniting with Ken Norton Jr. should be good for him.

Draft implications: See Lofton

Trent Richardson

Raiders made the most headlines signing the former No. 3 overall pick. At 24 years old, Richardson is certainly worth the squeeze. He should compete with Latavius Murray for touches. If Richardson can even reach half of his potential the Raiders could look like genius. At worst he is a camp body.

Draft Implications: This running back class is also very deep. Raiders could have got a great value pick in the middle rounds. With Richardson, Murray, Reece, and Helu the Raiders may have already filled all of their running back roles and will probably not draft a runner.

Lee Smith

Do the Raiders really need another blocking tight end? I would have loved to see Jermaine Gresham added as he is a young steady blocker and pass catcher. However, back concerns probably deterred the Raiders. Either way the addition of Lee over better pass catching tight ends prove the Raiders are happy with Mychael Rivera’s production.

Draft Implications: Again, I think this proves the Raiders feel like they have a quality starter in Rivera. With Lee there, the tight end role should be filled and the Raiders probably won’t draft tight end.

Ron Helu

The running back brings value as a third down back and H back. With the team already struggling to get Reece involved, I don’t see Helu being a huge contributor.

Draft Implications: See Richardson.

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Raiders Free Agency: Window Shopping

Any talk about Free Agency has pretty much been irrelevant until yesterday’s franchise tag deadline. Now that teams have established exactly who will be able to hit the open market, it is time to sort out all of the Raiders rumors. With the Raiders having up to 70 million in cap space (depending on your source), Raider nation has all the right to dream about their favorite free agents being in Silver and Black. In a perfect world, these are the ways Raiders fill position needs.

via google images

1. Ndamukong Suh- Defensive Tackle

Isn’t it obvious? Suh is not only the best defensive tackle on the market but he might be the best talent to hit the free market in a while. Suh has already said his agent and dollar signs will determine where he plays the rest of his career.

Therefore, the Raiders come in to play because they have the funds and the renegade persona that match Suh’s needs. Still, I think this is more dream than reality because will Reggie McKenzie ever pay any player more than 20 million? I know the Raiders are desperate for impact players but would they really have Suh opposed to two marquee free agents with all the wholes they have? Moreover, the more mainstream media connects  Suh with the Raiders the less likely I think it occurs( Cough DJAX, Harbaugh). Even though I have lobbied for Suh for over a year, I think he probably cashes out elsewhere.

2. Randall Cobb- Receiver

Dez Bryant or Demarius Thomas would have been here had they not been franchised tag. That makes the 25 year old Cobb the prime meat of this free agent receiving class. Cobb not only has dynamic receiving ability but he can also bring value in the return game. His connection with Reggie McKenzie dating back to Green Bay make this an easy prediction for most.

Out of all the dreams listed here, Cobb is probably the most likely to be in Silver and Black. However, with rumors circulating that he might command 12 million, I think this is more fantasy. The Raiders are in a power position at No. 4 in the draft where receiver might not be as pressing of a need as people think. Also noted, there are less expensive starters on the open market. Hence, Cobb will have money thrown at him, but I think the Raiders ultimately dip out of this bidding war.

3. Greg Hardy- Defensive End

Jason Pierre-Paul would have been here, but he too became victim of the franchise tag. Hence, Hardy becomes the best edge player available as he was a dominate player two seasons ago

Unlike others on this list, I do not think signing Hardy is a dream because of the price. Rather, Hardy will be a dream to Raider Nation because nothing McKenzie has done in his past shows he will risk so much financial resources on players with as many off the field problems as Hardy. Someone will gamble on Hardy’s off the field problems but it will not be the Raiders.

4. Rodney Hudson- Center

Hudson has been linked to the Raiders as they have elected to like Stephen Wisenewski hit the open market. Hudson had a top rating by Pro Football focus makes him clearly the best target.

Still, letting Wisnewski walk is not a sign the Raiders thought they could upgrade at the position. Instead, I think it signals the Raiders will not break the bank on a center. Interior linemen can usually be found in the middle of the draft and that is the more realistic outlet for McKenzie to fill the whole at center.

5. Julius Thomas – Tight End

Thomas has had two dominate seasons making him the best tight end available. Him being a bay area native and familiarity with Jack Del Rio make this another easy link.

Still, considering the Raiders have young Rivera, they will not commit so much money to a tight end. With Thomas rumored to get 7-9 million, the Raiders will pass, especially on a tight end who can’t block. As i said before, they have Rivera to be a mediocre blocker already, so he will probably go to Jacksonville.

Overall, Raider fans have every reason to be excited for free agency. They should enjoy dreaming about the above players for the next week, because the reality is the Raiders might end up pursuing other less expensive options than the more quality players listed above.