FA DE Justin Tuck
Anyone who thinks the Raiders are going to break the bank for any big time free agents is living in a fantasy world. GM Reggie McKenzie has a background in a Packers organization that doesn’t over pay for free agents. McKenzie himself has stressed building through the draft, which will be his primary means of building this team.
I don’t expect the Raiders to go out and spend all of their money in one place. They finally got out of salary cap hell, and I don’t think McKenzie wants to put his franchise in jeopardy of a similar fate. I think The GM will repeat his trend of signing low-risk, high-reward veteran free agents. Here are some less popular names the Raiders could net on a bargain rate.
One of the Raiders biggest glaring need is on the defensive line. In a pass happy league, pass rushers are at a premium and this free agent class has quite a few.
Henry Melton, DT, Bears
After receiving the franchise tag last off season, Henry Melton suffered an injury in week 3. As a consequence, the Bears finished 30th against the run. Melton could easily come in and be the pass rushing 3 technique the Raiders have been wanting. The fact that he is coming off a major injury could mean a discount.
Justin Tuck, De, Giants
Justin Tuck has reportedly said he will not give the New York Giants a hometown discount. Tuck’s days in big blue could be over for the same reason Umenyera’s were last off season. Tuck has had his fair share of injury concerns over the past 3 seasons. However, in 2013 he finished the year with 11 sacks in a rebound season. Tuck possesses the type of versatility Jason Tarver would love to have. He may have to sign a 1 year ‘prove it’ contract, and the Raiders have the cap and playing time to attract Tuck. At 31 years old, the Raiders may even be able to give this savvy veteran his last big pay day if they can come to terms on a decent long term deal. Either way adding Tuck’s championship experience is priceless.
Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings
At 33 years old Kevin Williams may no longer be the dominating run stopper and pass rusher he once was. Raiders fans may want his Viking teammate Jared Allen, but Williams may be the more realistic option. The Raiders may lose Pat Simms and/or Vance Walker, both of whom boosted the Raiders run defense, so Williams would be a better replacement. He is quick enough to be a 1 technique in a 4-3 or a nose in a 3-4. The Raiders should offer Williams his last multi year deal, which should be less than the 5 million dollar salary he played at last season.
Anthony Spencer, De, Cowboys
Like Melton, Spencer received the Franchise tag only to have a season ending injury early in the season. Spencer’s best season came in 2012 when he had his only season with double digit sacks. Big D, and many other teams may be hesitant to give him big money with a big injury and limited production. I think the Raiders would do well to add Spencer’s pass rush ability to their defense on a one year deal. Tarver’s scheme could help Spencer showcase his talents as a stand up linebacker or hand down defensive linemen.
Other names: Antonio Smith, Tyson Jackson, Robert Ayers, Alex Carrington, Corey Peters, Justin Babineaux, Clinton McDonald, Randy Starks, Paul Solali
The Raiders secondary could only take steps forward after a horrible 2012. Last years additions of Charles Woodson, Mike Jenkins, and Tracey Porter added much needed veteran savy to the secondary, however those guys are free agents again and the team could use an upgrade. Any of those 3 guys could return at a bargain rate but the Raiders should have their eyes on other names.
Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks
Thurmond was the 4th best CB for the NFL champion Seahawks, but he could be a starter elsewhere. At only 26, he could be a lo key addition and physical corner prized by the Raiders defense. Personally I do not prize him as an ideal starter next to DJ Hayden but Thurmond could be a low cost substitution should the Raiders miss on the marquee free agents at the position…Aquib Talib, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Charles Tillman, CB, Bears
Tillman is coming off one of his worst seasons because of injury and lack of production. However, he was one of the best corners not too long ago. His price will be right and physicality could boost the secondary. Tillman is in his 30s but he could be a good mentor for Hayden.
Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints
Jenkins time for New Orleans is all but up, because the team will scramble to free up cap for a big Jimmy Graham contract. Regardless if Woodson is back with the team, the Raiders need to address the FS position. Jenkins brings the kind of Versatility Tarver values in DBS. He is also 29 years old, has a Super Bowl ring with Dennis Allen and could be a discounted addition for the secondary in nickel and passing situations.
Antoine Bethea, SS, Colts
Another player with Super Bowl experience never hurts a team trying to make a playoff push. He may not be a great addition in coverage, but his is smart and boasted another 100+ tackle season. Some may prefer Donta Whitner, but I think Bethea is better in coverage. Either would be a much more affordable target than Julius Byrd.
Other names: Sam shields, Tarell Brown, Bernard Pollard, Nate Allen, Ryan Clark, Donte Whitner, ,