The Oakland Raiders regime consistently adds competition to their roster through Free Agency. The Raiders will continue this trend by addressing each need with a capable starter or solid backup.
This formula helps steady the blue-worker culture of Jack Del Rio’s roster. It saves owner Mark Davis money by not cashing huge checks for any single Free Agent. Plus it gives general Manager Reggie McKenzie freedom in the draft.
Here is how the Raiders can win the NFL offseason, as the official NFL new year begins with the opening of Free Agency. Expect them to hone in on the running game and pass defense in the 2016 offense. They worked on run defense and passing attack last year.
1. Resign Donald Penn
The Raiders need someone ready to grow Derek Carr and Amari Cooper on offense. Unfortunately, that guy is not in free agency. The closest thing is Russell Okung, but he is not worth spending big bucks on. Also, count the Raiders out of the bidding war for Osmele.
It seems unlikely Penn returns because the sides could have signed a deal during the season. However, he is the perfect two year stop gap as the team drafts his replacement.
2. Sign a linebacker
The Raiders can cut Curtis Lofton now or before the season. Either way the team needs to upgrade the linebacker position. These players could be found in the draft. However, this talent group is top heavy at the position. Add Danny Travathan, Jerrell Freeman or Bruce Irvin. Good age and plenty of experience. The Raiders got the cash to make this fast and easy.
They may also select a linebacker in the draft. Regardless, signing a starting caliber linebacker is a priority.
3. Grab some safeties
Forget your opinion on Nate Allen. Plus, Taylor Mays and Larry Asante are best as special teams. Therefore, the Raiders need to add at least two safeties via the draft or free agency.
The Raiders will make a run on a starting safety like Eric Weddle, Tashaun Gipson or George Iloka. After locking one up, they’ll add a fringe starter to the mix like Sean Richardson, Walter Thurmond, Hussain Abdullah or Michael Griffin.
4. Add a pass rusher or two
It is the old chicken or egg debate. What came first, the poor secondary or poor pass rush? I know the Raiders pass rush was decent last year, but expect the team to build on the strength. Del Rio and McKenzie both like building teams from the inside out.
Olivier Vernon and Malik Jackson spark a lot of interest for the Raiders. However, Oakland will probably pass on their high price tags. The Raiders should try adding someone like Jason Pierre-Paul on a fair market deal. That could move Khalil Mack into full-time linebacker duty. Either way that is an upgrade to the pass rush.
Otherwise the group can add some bargain bin veterans via the Justin Tuck role. How about Mario Williams or Chris Long? Both players could play all along the defensive line or rush the passer standing up. Charles Johnson might also be someone they add later in the process.
5. Add an offensive guard.
I am willing to believe this unit believes in John Feliciano. That is why they will not pay Osmele $10 million a yer to play guard. Osmele is not the answer at left tackle either, despite him starting a few games there last season.
The Raiders could still add a quality starter at the position. This could include Alex Boone, Jeff Allen or Ramon Foster. Otherwise they will probably take a flier on a veteran like Jahri Evans or Geoff Schwartz. This atleast gives them another year or two to develop Feliciano.
6. Bring in a corner
The Raiders will probably be linked to high end corners like Sean Smith and Prince Amukamara. However, they will probably see what they have in the trio of T.J. Carrie, D.J. Hayden and David Amerson. All three are young enough for another season of consideration. Adding some pass rush will help this group out.
Nonetheless, the Raiders will still sign some talent at the position. They’ll extend serious interest to Casey Heyward, Jeremy Lane, Morris Claiborne or Brandon Boykin early. Heyward is the best of that group by far, but the rest of the guys could prove themselves in the Raiders secondary. As a consolation prize, the Raiders may give Leon Hall, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson or Leonis McKelvin one last shot at playing time.
7. Add some skill players
The Raiders should express some interest in young position skill guys. The Raiders are more talented at running back and receiver than past years. However, they can still add a young player to push the incumbents at receiver or running back. Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews and Marvin Jones should be in the Raiders spending. Anquan Boldin, Roddy White or Brandon LaFell might also bring their last bit of gas to the organization. The Raiders need another deep threat to replace Andre Holmes. Adding a big receiver could also spell Amari Cooper into the slot.
At running back it is much of the same. Some okay veterans and okay starters. The Raiders like Latavius Murray off of a Pro Bowl year. The team won’t overpay for Doug Martin or Lamar Miller despite how beast of a compliment they would be for Murray. Ronnie Hillman or CJ Anderson make sense as they are both young. James Starks or Arian Foster will be connected to the organization. No matter who they sign, the Raiders should also add a runner from the top five rounds of the draft. Unless they strike gold with Martin, Miller or Matt Forte.
8. Draft the best player available
The Raiders have no need to reach for a position in the draft. McKenzie does a good job at letting the draft play out. He will do the same by drafting the best overall talent in the draft.
Expect any player the Raiders draft to compete for a starting position. I predict the team will use two of its’ first three picks on defense. That is only if a really good running back or tackle falls into a position they can not resist.
9. Bring back key players
Keep Denico Autry, Seth Roberts and any other players they like from last season. That includes guys who might become career back ups like Tony Bergstrom, Khalif Barnes or Matt McGloin. I’m not oppossed to keeping Matt McCants, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Taylor Mays, Neiko Thorpe or anyone else that got significant time last year. If someone else does not value them, give them at least a shot in camp. The Raiders need these guys for role positions, and they played with lots of heart in 2015.
Finally, sign Aldon Smith. Make it Happen. He is too talented to let go.
- Sign Donald Penn
- Sign Danny Travathan
- Sign Tashaun Gipson and Sean Richardson
- Sign Jeff Allen
- Sign Jeremy Lane
- Sign Chris Long
- Sign Jermaine Kearse and CJ Anderson
- Draft: T. Decker, Robert Nkemdiche, Paul Perkins, Scooby Wright, Best corner, best receiver, best corner or safety.
- Rankins or Nkemdiche are my favorite pickers here. However this is not a bad spot for Jason Spriggs, Ronnie Staley or Taylor Decker depending on Pro Days.
- If Nkemdiche or Jaylon Smith land here they are two talented to let fall past the Raiders in round two. Otherwise Kenny Clark, Dorian Thompson or Deion Jones could fit here.
- Paul Perkins is my favorite of the second tire backs in this class. Great pass catching option. Otherwise C.J. Prosise or Tyler Ervin comes into play here also.
- Best linebacker, linemen or corner in this spot depending on the rest of the draft. A good defensive player like Wright might find himself here.
- Draft remains the same through next 3 rounds. Just add some athletes. Maybe a high ceiling guy like Rashard Robinson.
Ultimately, the Raiders will continue their trend upwards with this draft. They add plenty of B and C plus signings before killing the NFL Draft. This team would definitely compete in the NFL Playoffs.