Five Available Free Agents Raiders Should Consider

The marquee names and signings have already been sucked out of the Free Agency Market. Yet, the Raiders were a team desperate for depth last season, combined with raised expectations from management and fans, the Raiders could do well to continue looking at the Free Agent Market. Most of the players available are young players looking for one more chance to disprove the bust label or veterans looking for one last pay day. There are plenty of guys with injury or off-field concerns, but could be low risk-high reward additions. Considering they still have some of the most money available to spend, here are five of the best free agents who could fufill a need.

1. Anthony Spencer DE/OLB Cowboys

Two seasons ago, Spencer racked double digit sacks playing across from Demarcus Wate. His career in Dallas rewarded him with consecutive franchise tags, but that ended once he suffered a season ending knee injury. Something must not be right healthwise, for Spencer to still be available. However, Spencer maintains value as a pass rusher. Evident by the Raiders attempt to lure Jared Allen, they are not afraid to stack pass rushers. Spencer fits the 30 year-old, something to prove veteran player build Reggie McKenzie has acquired all free agency. He possess value as a right end behind Justin Tuck, a LEO behind Woodley, or even a Sam LB behind Sio Moore. Spencer’s versatility could be had for a bargain price now, as he continues to heal up. Jason Tarver could do well having SPencer at his disposal for any of the mentioned relief roles. Could also push those guys for playing time, either way the Raiders can not have enough Depth up-front.

2. Kevin Williams DT Vikings

Kevin Williams has spent his entire career stuffing the run, racking up pro-bowls, and being a constant professional for the Minnesota Vikings. Williams has not turned his cheek on the Vikings, but seeing their acquisitions paints the picture on the wall. The Raiders did well, re-upping with run stuffer Pat Simms, but he has nowhere near the decorated career Williams holds. As mentioned before, the Raiders need bodies up-front, and Kevin Williams is still a big and capable one technique. Having him rotate with simms should give the Raiders no excuse for not dominating against the run. Williams may still have enough to bounce into the 3 technique and really scare some interior linemen.

3. Pat Agerer ILB Colts

The former second round pick of the colts has struggled to stay on the field. Signing him would mean the Raiders are banking on his health, but even if he gets hurt again, the Raiders could simply cut him. Adding Agerer would keep Nick Roach honest by having competition. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, you either love or hate Roach, but having Agerer as an alternate would improve the Raiders Defense. If Agerer pans out the two could be used in combination as inside backers in 3-4 fronts, or Roach could move back to his natural position, Weakside Backer.

4. Terrance Cody NT Ravens

Cody has not been the dominate nose tackle he was suppossed to be since being drafted from Alabama. He is still a huge presence (literally) and only 27 years old. Maybe he can finally become motivated to be the player her was suppossed to be. Adding him as a true Nose Tackle will insure blocks will be eaten up(not literally), which is good considering our linebackers are not the best at taking up blocks. Cody will probably never be a great pass rusher, considering he has never registered a sack, but his size could mean freeing up other blockers for runs at the QB in Tarvers scheme.

5. Thomas DeCoud Safety Falcons

There are a lot of starts still available in the Safety Market. However, their is also a lot of age as well. DeCloud sticks out because he is only 29 years old and has a pro-bowl to his name. Last season was a downer in Atlanta, but he should be able to compete with Usama Young for Charles Woodson’s relief and Special Teams play. Why make a move for another safety? Woodson is not getting any younger, and Usama Young suffered a long injury last season. Young could do well with a little competition from DeCloud.

Disclaimer: I left out guys like Erin Henderson and Fred Davis because even though they have talent, McKenzie’s track record shows he is not a fan of off-field baggage. Added Santonio Holmes, Kellen Winslow were left off for their big heads not fitting the culture of the Raiders. Jermichael Finley has to be cleared before I consider him if I am the Raiders. Darryn Colledge was the next name to not make this list. Colledge is familar with McKenzie from Green Bay, but the Raiders have already added so much OLine, I am not sure if more help is on the way.

Other notables: Adrian Wilson, Yeremiah Bell, Terrell Thomas, Miles Austin, Sidney Rice,Quintin mikell Davin Joseph, Harvey Dahl, Uche Nwaheri, Daryn Colledge.

All in all, I think the Raiders will probably wait until the draft before adding more free agents. I am sure they want to see how the draft pans out before adding more depth acquisitions

Bargain Bin Free Agents


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.

Defensive line 

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, ,

20140207-155222.jpg FA safety Malcolm Jenkins

First things First

We all mock free agency. Normal people feel like it is millionaires complaining about 10  or 12 million to play a game. The truth is, the NFL is a business and these are guys jobs, livelihoods, and families impacted by this once in a while decision. If regular people could be courted every few years by their companies competition, than they would take every advantage of it. It should be no suprise then that professional athletes look forward to the oppurtunity once their rookie contract expires. This is money that is suppossed to last them their entire lives, so if one employer undervalues you then you have a right to get compensated better else where. Therefore, we can not blame players for wanting to test free agency. In the NFL rookie contracts are large, but the second contract is what seperates the ballers from the busts and keeps players wealthy. The Raiders have two of their own coming off the books, and before they do anything else they have to show them it is plenty green on this side of the fence.

The salary cap shackles are finally coming off of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders will have over 50 million in dead money coming off the books for the 2014 year. The Raiders will have a full stock of draft picks and salary cap space for General Manager Reggie Mckenzie to address various roster concerns.

Raiders GMReggie Mckenzie has preached building through the draft since he came into the position, two seasons ago. If Mckenzie wants to stick to that philosphy he has to start by giving Jared Valdheer and Lemarr Houston long term contracts.

Valdheer became a starter at Left Tackle his rookie season, and has been one of the Raiders most consistent players. Despite a torn tri-cept injury this season, Valdheer battled back and played well towards the ends of the season. On Defense, Houston has become rewknown around the league as a high motor defender capable of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. Houston is coming off his best statistical season and played most of the Raiders defensive snaps.  Both players have become leaders of their respective units, and have been  the few bright spots on an overmatched team. Each of these guys have played out their rookie deals and have earned an oppurtunity to test free agency. Houston said he is unsure if he will be back, because Dennis Allen may want someone else for their scheme, however, he and Valdheer have both expressed a desire to comeback if they are wanted (That is the politically correct statement we are used)

McKenzie can not afford to have either of these guys walk. Besides being underated at their positions, both of these players are young and approaching their prime. Mckenzie has already let many of the previous regime’s draft picks walk, so Mckenzie needs to salvage the few draft picks that have panned out, from the previous regime. This team already has needs on both sides of the field, and can not afford to add left tackle and defensive end to that list. The league has become a passing league, so defensive end and left tackle are two critical positions on the field. Precisely why either of these guys will leave if the Raiders do not make a great offer.

Mckenzie has preached continuity, and he needs to reiterate that by resigning two of his best players on the whole roster. The two players have battled through the organizations struggles on and off the field, but have emerged as constant workers and leaders of this football team. If the Raiders can not sign their own big name players, then how can they attract marquee free agents? I do not expect either Valdheer or Houston to come at a discounted rate. The two players have enough potential upside and game tape to earn themselves a big contract somewhere else if the Raiders low ball them. The closer free agency approaches, the closer these two are from commanding money big elsewhere.

However, I don’t expect Mckenzie to break bank for either of these guys. Once upon a time, Al Davis gave his guys lucrative contracts even if their play didn’t match it. Davis is gone and I don’t expect Mckenzie to overpay for either of these guys. He came from an organization in Green Bay that does not overpay its players.I understand neither of these guys were drafted by McKenzie, and McKenzie may not feel obligated to get these guys a deal. Last off-season, McKenzie let Desmond Bryant and Brandon Myers after they were essential contributers on the Raiders. Last offseason the Raiders had zero cap space, but this season they have tons of cap flexibility  and can not afford to lose two of their own, again.

Frankly, the Raiders need these two guys. The Raiders Roster lacks talent throughout, and McKenzie can not expect to replace everybody. That may give the players the leverage that they need to command a big deal or walk. Either way, The money is there for the Raiders. I know McKenzie will not spend all of the money in one place, as he wants to preserve cap flexibility. Neither should he undervalue two professional players who have give their all to an organization even in its ‘lost’ season(s). Hence the Raiders need to do whatever it takes to keep these guys. Even if Mckenie doesn’t believe these are the guys to build his franchise around, he has to start somewhere. These guys have played their way, haven’t complained, and deserve the big pay day. If the Raiders can not come to terms on a deal with either of these guys then there going to have a lot more to reconstruct. I would hate to see another franchise benefit from their play after the Raiders spent so much time developing these two players. A lot will unfold from here to free agency, but the longer McKenzie waits to give them an extension, the more likely they will bolt to another franchise. Time is ticking and the Raiders do not need either of these guys to test the market.

I would hope Houston and Valdheer have bought into what the Raiders are selling enough to not jump ship. I would hope they want to finish the rebuild they started, and give wins back to a fanbase that constantly gives to them. However, the NFL is a business, and I am not in the lockerroom or coaches meetings to really understand the two players dynamic on and off the field. I do know that seeing these guys in something other than silver and black will be crushing. Ask Nnadami or Charles Woodson, no fans will love you as much as Raiders fans do when your a Raider.