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.
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.