When the official start of free agency begins, the Oakland Raiders stood pat on the big-name talent. Instead, the re-signed Lee Smith to a new contract. With the pressure to immediately succeed, Oakland needs to fill improve a 6-10 roster. FPC Raiders writers Anthony Zaragoza, Pete Camarillo, Chris Simmons, and Ray Aspuria give their impression of Free Agency 2018
What realistic FA would you like to have signed and why?
Terrance Mitchell, who signed with the Cleveland Browns. An under-the-radar corner for the Chiefs last season, Mitchell was a pesky corner with three picks and 18 pass deflections in his final year in Kansas City. At age 25, he would have been a good flier in a depleted Raiders secondary.
Mo Wilkerson would have looked great in Silver and Black but it appears he wanted to stay in 3-4 defense. I would have liked to see him fill the need at defensive tackle.
I would love the Raiders to add Zach Brown to their roster regardless of prospects at the top of the draft. Adding him would eliminate the absolute need to take the position high in the draft, and if they draft a linebacker, high there would still be ways to get them both on the field. Brown is the kind of stabilizer the Raiders have needed in the middle for a decade. At 28, he still has prime years remaining.
Some secondary help. At this point, the major free agents are signed at corner. Malcolm Butler heads to Tennessee and Tremaine Johnson is now a New York Jet. These two players could have helped the Raiders in a big way, but definitely out of the price range for Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders salary cap. As a result, the tier two defensive backs need attention. Rashaan Melvin would be a nice fit and target this week.
What three FA moves do you think Oakland should make?
Ink corner back Rashaan Melvin; land linebacker Preston Brown and defensive tackle Tom Johnson. Melvin is a big corner at 6-foot-2 and covered Pittsburgh Antonio Bryant well for Indy last year. Brown was a tackling machine for Buffalo and Johnson is a veteran three technique Oakland needs.
Sign Jordy Nelson while keeping Michael Crabtree on the team. Add Amari cooper to that mix and that is as potent as a passing attack gets.
Chase Suh to the ends of the earth. Considering the dearth of pass rushing options in free agency and the draft, Suh will come at a premium. All the same, he would elevate the defense’s ceiling just by taking attention away from Khalil Mack.
Avoid the Hail Mary signing. Raiders fans have been getting worried that their team is sitting out the big money period of free agency. They forget that you cannot win a Lombardi during March and with big paydays on the horizon for young players, it is best to look for parts rather than a whole car.
Keep Michael Crabtree, add Jordy Nelson, and cut Seth Roberts. The wide receiver group needs a slight makeover. The Seth Roberts experiment did not work in 2017. Roberts failed to improve on his drops and made some mistakes in key games last season. Thus, pairing a solid veteran (at the right price) like Nelson with Amari Cooper and Crabtree sounds like a great start to the new season. Do not forget, the Raiders also have speedster Cordarrelle Patterson as well.
A) They need to sign a defensive tackle in case the group does not progress again. I would love Ndamukong Suh or Sheldon Richardson for that role but it appears Oakland will not splurge on them. Tom Johnson, Dominique Easley, and Tank Carradine are some bargain options.
B) Add a safety, corner of both. Whatever the case just sign a DB. The secondary was one of the Raiders biggest weaknesses and it has only gotten worse in the young offseason. Eric Reid is a huge sleeper in this free agency class. He should come cheap on a one-year prove it deal. He is familiar with the bay and Reid gives the Raiders more versatility with Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu. Mike Mitchell is more affordable option that can do the same. I would also look at budget corners like DeShawn Shead, Jeremy Lane, and Justin Bethel.
C) You could argue Oakland needs a linebacker but there are Vontaze Burfict rumors and many options throughout the draft. The edge class looks less deep and the Raiders need help there. Adrian Clayborn is the top person left buys 29 and off his best season which will price him out of the Raiders’ interest. There are some veteran guys worth kicking the tires on like Elvis Dumervil and William Hayes. Charles Johnson and Tamba Hali are off down years but they might be worth a small contract too. Otherwise, the Raiders could look at offering a reserve an expanded role. Marcus Smith, Kony Ealy, Benson Mayowa, and David Bass make sense if they are cheap. Alex Okafor is a dark horse since he is off injury but has 18 sacks at age 27.
What 2017 starters look in jeopardy of being cut?
We have already seen a few cut like Newhouse and Sean Smith. Jared Cook is next due to the Raiders signing Derek Carrier and re-signing Lee Smith.
NaVorro Bowman. This one hurts because NaVorro Bowman serves two key purposes on the Raiders. A veteran on the field and a tackling machine. However, with the way things are playing out right now, it feels similar to the Perry Riley Jr situation last season. If McKenzie can pull through and agree with Bowman, it will be a solid move. If not, the questions marks at linebacker will get bigger.
Jared Cook is the likeliest in my opinion. Jon Gruden favors blocking tight ends as his starter and Cook (set to make more than $5 million this coming season) is an expensive “backup”.
How do you deal with the endless speculation tying to Oakland and players?
Personally, I love all the speculation. It gives Raiders fans something to be excited and upset about. Moreover, it is nice to believe every player considers the Silver and Black even if it is not always true. I think it helps the Raiders secure bargains too since free agents always have to consider if Oakland has other options and potentials.
To me this is nothing new, going all the way back to when Reggie McKenzie first took the job. Rumors of Raider interest surrounded every big name player looking for a payday. Fortunately, this team is not the dumpster fire it has been the past so I pay little attention to rumors save from very well vetted sources. As I have said to FPC and friends alike, I am not concerned until there is legitimate cause for concern. Not over paying every high priced player whose name scrolls across the marquee is certainly, for me at least, an easy pill to swallow.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Reality bites, and I walk into free agency with the mindset the Raiders will not ink anyone. Then, pleasantly surprised when the team lands talent.
Take it with a grain of salt. The Raiders need to address some key positions on their team, which is the driving force on all of the speculation. Nevertheless, in reality, only Sean Smith and Marshall Newhouse have been shown the door up to this point. Therefore, to counter the countless rumors, I use a few trusted sources to get my updates. When you start to read and believe everything, that is where your get in trouble. People like @VicTafur will steer you in the right direction.