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Terrelle Pryor trade makes sense

Here is a column I wrote for my school paper.

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Original post- http://sundial.csun.edu/2014/04/seahawks-make-smart-move-with-low-cost-aquisition-of-raiders-pryor/

 

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.

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Five Available Free Agents Raiders Should Consider

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

A Raiders Fun Friday

Jones-Drew signs with Raiders earlier today, via Raiders.com


Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie did not waste any time on his Friday, and cleared his to-do list by signing two more veteran defensive linemen and running back.

I took some time to address a potential Free Agency signing for the Raiders, with Desean Jackson, but the Raiders already brought someone home to the bay-area.

Former Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew signed with Oakland for a 3 year deal, after spending his high school years in the bay and college years at UCLA.

MJD has shown some decline over the past seasons with injury, and he has a lot of miles of him. However, the undersized back is still capable of taking the ball to the house when he touches it. He has capable hands and is not afraid to pass block, which gives him value on third down.

I expect him to compete with Darren McFadden for time in the backfield. I think the result will be the two having split series. They have a similar skill set with down-hill running ability and versatility. At worse, Jones is a great insurance policy for McFadden’s reoccuring injuries. At Best it gives the Raiders two dynamic playmakers to hand the ball to. It is clear McKenzie is building a team that can pound the rock with the signing of the two RBS and offensive linemen.

McKenzie continued his trend of building a physical team by signing two more defensive linemen for depth. Pat Simms returns after probably being undervalued in the Free Agency market.

Last Year, Simms was a run stopper for the Raiders, but I think he is better in a reserve role. The Raiders have enough pass rushing options with Smith and McGee on the inside that Simms should play less 3rd downs and focus on gasing it in run situations. His big body gives the Raiders defense resatility for 4-3 or 3-4 fronts, but he can also eat blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays.

CJ Wilson, a defensive end who spent his career with the Packers, was also signed today. Wilson has some starting experience, but does not have a lot of sacks. That is normal for an end in a 3-4 defense so it should not be alarming. Luckily, is only 26 years old so he still has some potential. His signing is so Reggie McKenzie, but it is probably a result of the Raiders missing out on Alex Carrington early in the week.

Wilson is probably another add for depth. He has some versatility and will probably back up Antonio smith as a 3 technique or end in running situations.

Overall, Friday was a great day to be a Raider Fan, hopefully McKenzie can build on today headed into the week by signing Desean Jackson.

The Matt Schaub Situation

Raiders new starting QB Schaub address the media via Google images.

Last week, The Oakland Raiders acquired their starting Quarterback, Matt Schaub, from the Houston Texans for a draft-pick in the sixth round.

Matt Schaub was once the promising back-up for the Atlanta Falcons in the glory days of the Mike Vick Era. He was then traded to the Texans some seasons ago to become their starter.

In Houston, Schaub was a two-time pro bowler and had a QB rating in the top ten (Schaub Supporters won’t let you forget it). For the most part, Schaub was not an elite QB, but definitely above average as he lead the Texans to a few playoff births with the help of JJ Watt, Brain Cushing, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and other key Texans’ Players. 

Many of us do not remember those days as vividly as we remember Schaub getting booed by him home crowd after an aparent injury. In a league based on ‘What have you done for me lately,’ I remember Schaub’s consecutive pick-six interceptions in four games last season, before being benched for a late-round rookie. 

In my eyes, even Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman are better options. Freeman was a one time pro-bowler, and Sanchez has an extensive playoff resume. Both are farther from 30 then Schaub (and Schaub is over 30). Even though both fell out of favor with their previous regimes due to off-field issues and on-field performance, under the age of 28, both guys have more potential for growth then Schaub.

The last capable starter the Raiders had was a young Jason Campbell who fell out of favor with the previous regime, and I think Sanchez or Freeman could have had a similar effect. Even after all Schaub and Freeman had been through, I am not sure either lost as much confidence as Matt Schaub did after fans booed him. Maybe they did not fit the scheme as well, or were not worth the hassle, but who the Raiders did not get is an entirely separate issue.

My problem is not with Schaub as a Quarterback. I understand he is the big, strong-armed quarterback capable of managing games and getting the ball to his play makers. I understand the familiarity with Gregg Knapp’s offense in Oakland, and I understand he is a more reliable option for managing defensive games, while being more predictable for the coaches to predict. 

Added, Schaub has been relatively successful in the league, possessing pro-bowls, playoff births, and a high QBR. However this is the Not For Long(NFL). Yes, there were not many viable options for a starting QB in Free Agency or the Draft, however that does not mean you give the job to the first semi-capable one that becomes available. 

The Raiders and Head Coach Dennis Allen have already gone on record as saying Schaub is their starter for this year and possibly years to come. I understand the Allen, Mckenzie, and Owner Davis have urgency for results this season, but their is no telling if Schaub is even capable of being the quarterback he once was.

Do we remember the last Matt the Raiders banked on, Matt Flynn? He was handed the starter job only to lose it in camp, despite being Reggie’s guy and having the highest salary of the other QBs on the Roster. I know Flynn and Schaub are not even close to the same player, but Schaub spent his own time as a back-up, and was only above average/solid/good for a few seasons with the Texans(that seems so long ago).

Schaub lost his job in Houston for good reason, so how can we simply hand this guy the job. Yes it is important for a QB a to handle adversity, but Schaub’s confidence seemed deteriorated after poor results and criticism from fans last season. If he struggles this season, even a little bit, the black hole is going to be even less forgiving, especially considering he is more pricey then any of the guys mentioned earlier.

My thinking is, why wouldn’t you want Schaub to come in and compete for the job? If he is truly capable of being our starter then let him go out and prove it to fans and , more importantly, his own confidence. Handing him the job is not going to do anything for his development. The Truth is Schaub has not seen much development over his past seasons. This last season we seen a huge digression which could have been a product of his team or it could have been the other way around.

Terrelle Pryor has asked for a trade, and I do not blame him. Many say the writing has been on the wall, and this was already a conclusion in process since Pryor fell out of favor with the regime. But why not let Pryor compete with Schaub? Even the undersized McGloin could give Schaub a run for his money, so why acquire Schaub to be your starter?

If Schaub was really the best guy and If he really wanted to be a Raider, why not wait for him to be released? The truth is, Schaub probably would have opted for Kyle Shanahan and the Cleveland Browns, but I don’t think they would have even named him the automatic starter.

Like I said, I do not blame Pryor for wanting out. it is hard to take hits and a beating for a team over a season and then hear they handed your job to someone who has not even beaten you or proven more capable then you. Does anyone remember how we beat Schaub at home a few seasons ago?

Whatever the case is, Allen and Mckenzie are banking a lot on Schaub this season. He may have been the best option for a starting QB out there, but that does not mean he is the best one for the Raiders. Schaub does not have much more potential. No one is even sure if he is the QB we saw last season or the ones from the previous few seasons. Either way, The Raiders will do well to invest in a young QB who can actually compete with Schaub and push him in training camp. Otherwise we may be looking at an uncontested mediocre quarterback with no future at the helm of our Raiders.

If Schaub fails then the Raiders, as a whole will fail. Losing Pryor takes away any other capable experienced option the Raiders have. Sure McGloin is a compeitor and a solid back-up but he is not the playmaker or gamechanger that Pryor is.

Hence, the Raiders are gambling on Schaub, and if he does not succeed then he, Allen, and McKenzie will probably all be looking for jobs next season. The Raiders will then be in exactly the same position they have been the past few seasons, looking for their QB of now and of the future.

Pro-Days not Everything

Blake Bortles performs at combine, and built on that performance with a great pro-day via USA Today

A lot of hype surrounds NFL pro-days. For good reason too, as NFL teams have scouted the top prospects for months, and look forward to an oppurtunity to see them perform live.

For QBs especially, Pro-days are a huge deal because many of the top prospects elect not to throw at the combine. Additionally teams want to see players perform at their best in their own controlled and simulated environment.

Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr all held their pro-days this week. Allen visited the first two’s and is scheduled to check out Manziel’s. Mckenzie has attended Derek Carr and David Fales pro-day.

With That said, the hype has been around Bridgewater and Bortles. Bortles recieved a 10 out of 10 from ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, and many other scouts have sky rocketed him up to the top of the draft boards even as far as the no. 1 pick.

Bridgewater on the other hand, was overwhelming. Mike Mayock said his pro-day was average and did not do anything to his draft stock. Other opinions in the media did add more questions to Bridgewater’s potential after the poor pro-day.

The Reality of the situation tells a different story. Bridgewater attempted throwing without his usual gloves and claimed that had to do with some of his inaccuricies. Bortles smelled blood and absolutely killed his pro-day.

Neither’s performance should really effect their draft status. The fact of the matter is you want to draft a QB because you are in love with him. Once you love a QB you can build your team around him and give him every chance to succeed. If he is your guy then one good or bad outing should not change your opinion of the guy.

Both guys have a compilation of film over the past years which indicate what they are capable of doing in pads, not a tee shirt. What did people expect from the pro-days? Of Course, Bortles is going to impress with his rocket arm, size and mobility. However you can not really answer questions about his ability to make decisions or read defenses until he goes against a live Defense, not on air.

Same thing with Bridgewater. Bridgewater has not been the consensus number one QB because he has the biggest arm. Scouts have liked his decision making and leadership skills. Combined with solid athletecism and a solid arm, many feel like he is the most pro-ready quarterback. One bad day should not change that perception because his game tape indicates otherwise. Not to mention, Bridgewater took negative opinion in stride and has illustrated the bounceback characteristic you want with a QB.

Added, Jamarcus Russell had one of the best Pro-Days ever. There will always forever be guys who look great in tee-shirts and shorts at every level of football. That should not takeaway from what a player does on gameday in a live situation

Either way, Pro-days should not change the Raiders perspective on either of these QB’s. Both have enough gametape to prove they belong in the NFL. The Raiders should not fall out of love with Bridgewater cause of a bad day nor should they love Bortles because of one great day.

The pre-draft process is exactly that, a process. The Raiders need to take the compilation of pro-days. combine performances, interviews, and game tape before gambling on a QB at the top of the draft. Regardless, the Raiders will have an oppurtunity to set up private workouts for either or both of these guys.

For more on my take about the Top Qbs Pro-days, listen to my podcast.

Raiders Keep one of their own

Reports indicate the Raiders boost their D-Block (Defensive Backs0 and are bringing back safety Charles Woodson on a one year deal.

Twitter reacted with Every Raider fan going nuts about the signing. For good reason too. Charles Woodson came in and made an impact for a defense desperate for playmakers and leadership. Woodson also represents a piece from the glory days of the Raiders and having him on the roster makes fans very happy. He embodies what it means to be a Raider, rough and tough.

From a football perspective, Woodson is the versatile Defensive Back Allen and Tarver utilize. He can line-up in the slot or at either safety position. He is not necessarily the kind of threat in coverage he once was, but he still has the range and speed to play safety. His tackling ability is up and down, but they have Tyvon Branch complimenting him at safety to cover those deficiencies.

Leadership wise, we understand what Woodson brings to the table. Reggie McKenzie’s trend is signing football players with Superbowl rings and Charles Woodson has one of his own. A strong Leadership presence will be on each level of Tarver’s defense. The Raiders look to be one of the smartest and versatile defenses in the entire league.

Additionally the Raiders made the re-signing of Usama Young, fellow safety. Young’s two year deal makes him an inexpensive back-up for Charles Woodson. Young started for the Cleveland Browns the year before serving as Woodson’s Back-up. He played well before injury took him out of  the line-up. Young is pretty good on Special Teams as well.

Young is a capable back up for Charles Woodson who should also offer some spot up duty. He recorded an interception and sack providing the kind of versatility to play all over the secondary. Preserving Charles Woodson is important and Young is more then capable of playing in his place.

The move indicates the Raiders are perserving 3 of their four starters from last season and a key back-up in Young. They also add a more season Brandon Ross and Chidekwai. FA Tarrell Brown is an unrated addition and they may even add a rookie to the mix. Dennis Allen specializes in Defensive Backs, so I have high expectations for them. They have the veteran leadership and continuity to be one of the strongest positions for the Raiders and i hope they produce

Mckenzie builds momentum with Jones signing.

RAIDERS sign former Giant Boothe


Jones joins Mckenzie with Raiders via Raiders.com

The Raiders added another couple of Superbowl rings and versatile weapons to their team in the second week of Free Agency, only this time it was offense.

GM Reggie McKenzie brought in one of his favorite players from his former employee named James Jones. At 29, the former Packer wide-out signed a two year deal worth up to $3.8 million a year. Considering their was not much rumored interest in one of the top wide receivers in Free Agency, McKenzie got himself another steal.

Jones passed up an opportunity to play for  The Panthers in favor of returning to Northern California as he is from neighboring San Jose. Football wise, Jones is a versatile competitor. He is capable of lining up in the slot or in the outside position. He has racked up almost 800 yards the past two seasons catching balls from Aaron Rodgers.

I love this deal because it is another bargain price for someone who is a big time competitor. The cap implications are not the bad, but I hope they do not expect Jones to be a true #1 receiver. Jones’ sure hands make him a reliable target but he is best suited in a complimentary role. 

I hate this deal because of it’s implications for the draft. I would hate to see the Raiders pass up the Clemson Phenom Sammy Watkins because of their depth at the receiver position. With Streater, Holmes, and Moore already there, plus Jones the Raiders have four capable play-makers in the receiving game. Either way, their is so much talent in this draft class when it comes to receiver that I would hate to see the Raiders pass up value in the mid rounds because the position is field.

Therefore, it would not surprise me to see Denarius Moore traded before the season ends. Moore was expected to be the go to guy, and made some big plays while struggling with consistency. Overall he is an Al Davis guy and has concerns with his work ethic which could make him a viable candidate for the trading block. He should have some value as a relatively young receiver who has made big plays in the league. The Patriots or Panthers could do worse then adding him to their receiving corps.

McKenzie was not done with adding Superbowl rings on Monday, as he signed a familiar face. Kevin Boothe was originally drafted by the Raiders in 2006 before being cut for schematic reasons the next season. Boothe went on to start lots of games for the Giants including two SuperBowl rings.

Boothe adds another big body capable of starting in the offensive-line. He is versatile as a center or guard. The veteran will be able to compete at either of the guards positions, while being insurance due to injury.

Boothe is not a Pro-bowler or anything spectacular. He is not a slouch neither, and is a welcomed addition to an offensive-line in transition.

Both of the signings are continue Reggie McKenzie’s trend of signing Veterans who know how to compete and win. He is not signing the most talented players but players who change the losing dynamic of the franchise. Boothe and Jones added to the core of players signed last week are the type of Leaders who can reverse the culture of losing.

I have been critical of McKenzie in the past, but I give him props for sticking to his guns. He is signing quality stop-gap players at a bargain rates in hopes that his draft picks can develop. For my beloved Raiders sake and for his own, I hope McKenzie’s plan works.

He will continue his plan and carry the momentum through the rest of Free Agency. He still has plenty of cap space.

Some Guys on my list who should be on his:

Mike Jenkins

Kevin Williams

Terrance Cody

Erin Henderson,

Henry Melton

Carlos Rodgers

Antonio Cromartie

Donald Penn

 

Don’t Sleep on Antonio Smith or Tarrell Brown

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Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie capped off the First week of Free Agency by signing two under the radar Free Agents Tarrell Brown and Antonio Smith. Although neither have the name recognition of Justin Tuck or LaMarr Woodley both could have just a big of an impact on the Raiders Defense.

Brown Comes from just across the Bay as a former 49er. Last season he did not have his best effort as he did not record an interception in 10 starts. However the two seasons before he started every game and recorded a combined 6 interceptions. Playing with the 49ers, Brown has the playoff experience which Raiders young secondary members such as DJ Hayden can learn from. 

Brown may not be a pro-bowler but he has a lot of value as a starter or coveraging the slot. He is an above average tackler and his one of Pro Football Focus’ highly graded corner. He should be able to play the man or zone coverages required of Tarver’s scheme. Best part about this deal is the deal is only one year and worth $3.5 million, meaning their is no long term commitment for either side. 

As for Smith, the former Texan and self-proclaimed ninja brings the defensive line some more versatility. With the Texans he was primarily used as a defensive end lined up in the 5 technique. With the Raiders he will probably be utilized in those sets on some of the versatile schemes utilized by the Raiders. The Pass Rusher will also line-up as a pass rusher in the 3-technique.

Sure Smith is approaching 33 years of age, but he played well for the Texans recording 5 of his 41 career sacks. He is also stout against the run and could be critical in helping Stacey McGee develop along the Raiders Defensive Line rotation. Smith will be a critical element of keeping the defensive line fresh and also being able to mix up fronts and stunts for oppossing offensive lines.

Overall, neither of these guys have much household recognition. Fortunately they continue McKenzie’s trend of adding high leadership and work-ethic players to aid the development of our struggling organization. It is not going to happen overnight so having veterans capable of playing well young players develop is critical. Brown and Smith can both play at a high level and will be critical elements of the defensive rotation regardless of who else is brought in via free agency or draft. The best part about both of these signings is they are relatively cheap and offer low risk to the franchise.

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Who is Left in Free Agency

Alex Mack is the Best Free Agent Still Available and should be on Raiders list still

Guess What? There is still a long way until the NFL and draft and even longer until the season starts. The Raiders have not been the figurehead to Free Agency as many would have hoped, but they still have more than 50 million in cap space, and plenty of needs along the roster.

Offensive Line Hoggies do not recieve a lot of recognition, so I am going to group them together.
Alex Mack- Mack was one of the best centers in the game last season, and at 28 years old is the best free agent left on the market. The Raiders could benefit from selecting him and sliding the wiz kid to guard. However, cleveland can match any deal made to him and he will probably want a huge deal making it unlikely he becomes a Raider.

Brian De La Puente-
The former saints center could be a nice starter to help sure up the offensive line. Has performed decent, but probably deserves starting money. If number is right, this Saint connection could become a Raider easily, as a guard or Center.

Donald Penn-
The former undrafted free agent has been a beast for Tampa over the years and has not missed any games. At 31, I am not sure if he is going to get any better, however he is probably the only capable Left tackle available. He has visited with the Raiders and indications are it has been a successful. Raiders can not afford to let him leave as they need a replacement for Veldheer.

Michael Oher-
Oher, yes the one from the movie, is still relatively young at 27. Even if the Raiders ink Penn, Oher would be a nice addition as a guard or solid depth. He has regressed some the past couple of seasons, but a change of scenery could benefit him.

Darryn Colledge-
the Boise State product has been a guard as Green Back Packer and Arizona Cardinal. He is far from a pro-bowler, but he is a servicable starter. At worst, he would be a solid option for depth. He has arms long enough to play tackle combined with enough speed and power to pay guard. He should not command anywhere near the 4 million he would have made with Cardinals, so the Raiders should come into play, especially with Reggie McKenzie’s connection to the former Packer.

Other Names-Zach Strief, Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston, John Jerry, Kevin Boothe, Davin Joseph, Uche Nawaneri, Richie Incognito

Secondary-
The Raiders need to address the Defensive Back field as they have yet to resign incumbants Mike Jenkins or Charles Woodson. Specifically they need to add atleast one or two cornerbacks to pair with D.J Hayden, as well as added insurance in the even Hayden goes down with injury. *As I wrote this, Tarrell Brown was signed for the Raiders. Great move, underrated cover corner familiar with the bay area. He will do well as a starter, but I would perfer him as a nickle Back and insurance policy to DJ Hayden. Raiders could still add another corner for starter purposes and a FS. Brown was a great start, but here are a few other guys.

Guys I like:
Mike Jenkins-
Raiders brought Jenkins in on a one year prove it deal. He played up and down but is worthy of another affordable deal. He is versatile and would give raiders some continuity they have been lacking. There are a lot of teams interested in the former pro bowler and versatile CB, so I am not sure Raiders will bring him back especially if they have not done so already. However he is the capable and versatile starter to compliment Hayden. He Brown and Hayden would make the corner position sured up for the raiders in the immediate future.

Walter Thurmond-
Thurmond is still relatively young and coming off a superbowl year. He was primarily a back-up which could lead to him getting over payed. He would still be an upgrade over the other Raiders Cornerbacks.

Antonio Cromartie-
Entering his 30’s Cromartie is no longer the player he once was. However, he is still scheme versatile, athletic, and a competitor. Cromartie doesn’t reflect the high charachter guys Raiders have targeted, but I’m sure Raiders could offer him more then anyone else, and I know he would not turn down one last pay day, as well as a chance to be back in Cali weather.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie-
He is by far the best corner available due to age and the fact he is coming off a great season with the Broncos. He did already turn down a 9 million dollar avg. deal from the Broncos so he may overvalue himself. Raiders may not fork out the money he wants, but he would be the best #1 corner Raiders could get, while forming a good duo with Hayden. Not to mention he can play former team Broncos twice a year. No offers from Raiders yet could change once raiders sure up needs.

Terrell Thomas-
By most accounts, Thomas was mediocre in 2014 after consecutive ACL injuries. He was a productive player before and could be an affordable nickle back for Raiders. He could reunite with Justin Tuck and prove he still has plenty left in the tank. He already made a visit so the mutual interest is there.

Other names- Rashaad Mathis, Asante Samuel, Champ Bailey, Carlos Rodgers, Dunta Robinson, Anotine Cason, Drayton Florence, Josh Wilson, Aaron Ross

*All of these guys have proven capable at a time. However, many of them are on the decline due to diminishing skill from increased age or injury. Could be training camp guys without a shot at making the roster and proving themselves worthy.

Safety Position
There are plenty of stzrts in this Safety pool. However many are their for injury concerns or dip in production:

Charles Wooson-
You already know why, and how much he means to our franchise. Proved he has plenty to offer a team in nead of leadership and playmakers. Numbers have to be write to bring in a guy closer to 40.

Chris Clemons-
Regardless if Raiders get Charles Woodson they’ll need a second safety to make sure he does not take so many snaps. Clemons is the best available as we speak. He has only missed three games in four seasons.

Nate Allen-
He has underachieved with the Eagles, but at 26 years old he is an affordable back-up option. We could hope he learns something from Playing under Charles Woodson a year.

Other Names- Usama Young, Roman Harper, Quintin Mikell, Kendrick Lewis, Thomas Decloud, Brandan Merriweather, Michael Huff

Defensive Line

Raiders announced signing of LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck yesterday. The two would still benefit from having a pass rushing pressence on the inside.

Henry Melton-
Melton was a pro-bowler and is a versatile passrusher despite being undersized. He is coming off injury and an off field arrest which could have made Raiders shy away thus far. Melton could really be useful replacing Houston as an undersized bass rusher on the inside. Give him a fat one year prove it deal.. Please!

Kevin Williams-
I have been very adament about the 6 time pro-bowler. He is approaching age 33 but he can be effective as a two down run stopper. He is better then Vance Walker or Patt Simms. With something left to prove, he could be the bargain Reggie McKenzie looks for considering their has not been a lot of interest.

Vance Walker-
Even if the Raiders can court one of the three guys above, Walker would still be an effective back up. He knows the Raiders defense and is capable of stopping the run.

Antonio Smith-
The former Texan is already visiting. Coming off a 5 sack season he can play the end position in a five technique or DT as a 3 technique. They could do a lot worse then the Veteran Smith, but he is not my first option.

Other Names- Terrance Cody, Patt Simms, Patrick Carriker, Robert Ayers

Inside Linebacker
Regardless of what you think about Nick Roach, The Raiders could use an upgrade on the inside, and Roach could be better utilized in his natural position as an outside linebacker.

Brandan Spikes-
Spikes is only 26 years old. He had a falling out with the Patriots, so why not come to the Raiders. He is a two down thumper, but the Raiders need that, especially if they utilize more 4 linebacker sets. I’m sure if the Raiders called, he would be happy to take their payday, even if it is only a one year prove it deal due to his injury last season.

Akeem Ayers-
He has started a lot of games for the Rival chiefs. If nothing else he is an affordable depth option to push Nick Roach.

ErIn Henderson-
Henderson has had his fair share of off the field incidents with 2 DUI arrests, allegedly. However, He can play and with little interest could be some real value for Raiders on all three downs.

Other Names: Dan Conner, Jonathan Vilma, Nick Barnett, Larry Foote, Pat Angerer, Desmond Bishop

Here is the full list of Available Targets :

Notice: I excluded QBs, RBs, and WRs because they have not been very high in demand. McKenzie is either waiting to address other needs and let their stock fall, or he would rather address those needs via the Draft in May.

Tuck and Woodley’s meaning for Raiders

Woodley signs with Raiders via Raiders.com


Just around twelve hours ago, Raidernation was ready to jump ship when the Rodger Saffold deal was botched. Apparently, depending on whose side you believe, Saffold had a previous shoulder injury that caused him to fail the Raiders physical and voiding the contract.

Fast Forward a few hours, and Raider Fans were excited to hear the team signing Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley to two year contracts. Sure Woodley and Tuck are not the marquee players they once were a few seasons ago, but the signings are still significant boosts for the squad.

Veteran Leadership

Tuck and Woodley both come from two other storied franchises in the Steelers and Giants. Both hoisted the Lombardi trophy in their tenure with their former teams. Championship pedigrees are not cheap in this league and a team that has done a lot of losing needs to learn how to win, and these guys know how. As Fans we seen the Impact Woodson made when he came in purely from a leadership perspective, and these guys can do the same

Pass Rush
Between the two of these guys, The Raiders added over 100 career sacks to a struggling front four.Woodley
is a versatile rusher capable of standing up or putting his hand in the ground. Tuck is capable of rushing from the end or 3 technique. That versatility should be utilized by the Raiders. D-Coordinator Tarver should be stoked to have two new toys.

Affordability
Raiders got Tuck and Woodley for what it would have cost to franchise Lamarr Houston. Not to mention, the two year deals do not hurt the team in the long run. Around a 6 million dollar salary for these guys is a good deal considering they have more sacks then Houston.

Recruitement
These Two guys are about as respectable as you can be in the league. If they can buy into Reggie’s plan then I am sure they can get other Veteran Defensive Players to buy into what the Raiders are selling. So far free agency has proven Raiders are going to have to offer more then just playing time and money. Having Woodley’s and Tuck’s influence should help other free agents buy into the francsise.

Reggies Plan
These two moves signify Reggie’s plan of patience and not over spending. Fans lost beloved Houston and Veldheer and the Raiders needed to provide some hope for its fans. The Saffold drama can now be put behind us, and fans can buy into the big picture again. Reggie is not going to overspend or lock up players, he wants to build through the draft. Tuck and Woodley are the servicable stop-gap players for fans to be excited about, but they also could be the mentors to Raiders young players. Moreover, these are signings the Raiders can build on as they continue Free Agency and into the Draft.

Something To Prove
I mean really, When was the last time Raider Fans actually had something Legit to be excited about? Reggie McKenzie actually has something to prove to the fanbase which pays his pay check. Same could be said for Tuck and Woodley. Both were intricate pieces of their former franchises, yet were not coveted by their former teams. As they enter their 30’s(Woodley 29 Tuck 31) both players can prove they still have plenty to offer a team. Woodson dispelled the myth that 30 year old players can’t impact games, and Woodley/Tuck will look to do the same.

Sure Woodley and Tuck are not exactly the marquee names anymore. However that is no reason for Raidernation to not be excited, as they are better then anyone else currently on the roster. Sure the Raiders have a lot more to do in Free Agency and they have a huge draft coming up in May, but signing Woodley and Tuck is a step in the right direction.Singularly, neither is the kind of pass rusher to command double teams anymore, but paired offensive QBs have something to fear for the first time in a while.

] Tuck signs with Raiders [\caption]