Bring the six back or let them walk? That is the choice for Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie and presumed head coach Jon Gruden will make in due time. If they play this right, the Raider will immediately benefit.
Of the six, two had a substantial role this past season. One particular decision will spell the end of a player’s Raiders career.
The free agents: Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio; tight end Lee Smith; kicker Sebastian Janikowski; quarterback E.J. Manuel; guard Ian Silberman; guard Denver Kirkland.
As an exclusive restricted free agent, a tender for the 27-year-old rookie kicker will come relatively cheap. That alone should result in a return. Still, it is difficult to trust him as the long-term solution as he finished 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) and missed crucial attempts.
If Gruden indeed were the coach, a Seabass return would be for both nostalgic and practical reasons. While he is an unrestricted free agent and will not be cheap (Janikowski made nearly $4 million as he mended from a back injury), the 39-year-old placekicker can hit at the same rate — if not better — than his younger counterpart can.
The 25-year-old lineman’s versatility is a huge plus, as he proved capable of playing center — a spot he had not played before. Plucked off the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad and added to the active roster, Silberman is a restricted free agent whose tender will be cheap. In addition, the Raiders can tender him a low-money deal.
The 23-year-old mauler was a key component to the Raiders jumbo package in 2016. Nevertheless, injury wiped out his 2017 campaign. As an exclusive restricted free agent, his tender will also be cap-friendly and he showed enough promise to merit a return. Quality depth is necessary. Also, Kirkland can line up as an extra tackle.
Beard Mode was instrumental in the Raiders nasty rushing attack and is an absolute warrior. However, the 30-year-old pure-blocking tight end has younger options that remain on the Raiders roster.
A free-agent flier, the 27-year-old signal caller needs to look for the same opportunity elsewhere. Consider this as well: Gruden has spoken highly of backup QB Connor Cook when the soon-to-be third year was coming through the draft process. As a result, Manuel’s stay by the Bay is short