Free Agency is finally close. If Reggie McKenzie sits out the first week, fans of the Raiders need to accept this. With McKenzie having already made an offer to All-Universe Edge defender Khalil Mack, the silver and black will not have as much cap space as in years past. However, thanks to smart deal making the Raiders will be able to shed some of their heftier contracts and chase some of the better players on the market. More likely, however, the Raiders will try to sign one elite player and fill out the remaining spots with bargain bin, value players. Here are some of the players McKenzie likely already has an eye on as cheaper alternatives to the more expensive versions.
When Amukamara was drafted in 2011, the New York Giants thought they found a shutdown corner. While he has not intercepted a pass in two seasons, he proved himself valuable and solid. Ultimately, for the Giants, he was not worth his draft status as a first round pick, as he will likely never make a pro bowl. However, the Raiders may kick the tires and offer Amukamara a one-year deal worth around $6-7 Million. He would fit nicely as a career RCB allowing last year’s first round pick Gareon Conley to cut his teeth as a play-side corner.
While Preston Brown may not resemble a long-term starter the Raiders are looking for in the draft, at 25, youth is there. He should be just about entering his prime as a tackle machine who has some issues in coverage. He is known as a leader of men and could be a solid mentor if the Raiders are unable to find a middle ground with NaVorro Bowman. If the Raiders decide to pass on Bowman and; miss linebackers at the top of the draft, Brown could be a fine stopgap. Expect him to sign somewhere for five million.
In just two seasons, Taylor Gabriel has gone from solid slot receiver to looking for work after his. He made his debut in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns. Lewis posted over 600 yards, but just 1 touchdown. After a disappointing second season, the Atlanta Falcons claimed him. Gabriel earned himself a one-year extension with over 500 yards and six touchdowns in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. However, listed at 5’8” and just 165lbs, Gabriel suffered four concussions in 4 seasons. Gabriel might only be clinging to a final chance in the NFL. If Reggie McKenzie decides to cut either Cordarrelle Patterson or Seth Roberts, Gabriel might be a cheap fourth receiver.
Another smaller player who has some injury concerns, Dion Lewis offers the most upside of any backup on the market. While Lewis certainly has start potential, he has never started in more than eight games during a regular season. However, he does boast 4.8 yards per carry. In addition, Lewis averages 8.2 Yards per Reception that would make him an excellent backup to Marshawn Lynch. He also offers up some return ability. Plus, Lewis can even line up in the slot. This could give Jon Gruden some options in terms of three receiver sets with Dion Lewis as the third receiver. The New England Patriots used him in similar ways but durability issues ruined any chance of a major contract.