The first move was one that was well anticipated—the release of Kamerion Wimbley. The decision to do so freed up $4.5 million of cap space.
The next two moves came shortly after.
First, the Raiders announced the signing of offensive guard Mike Brisiel, formerly of the Houston Texans. He has extensive experience playing in the zone-blocking scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and offensive line coach Frank Pollack. Brisiel also has experience snapping the ball, which is always great.
He signed a deal worth $20 million over five years—not bad for our future starting right guard.
After that, the Raiders announced that they had come to a one year agreement with cornerback Ron Bartell, who was recently released from the St. Louis Rams. Bartell suffered from a neck injury, which played a big part in his release, but is expected to be healthy at the start of the season.
The Raiders gave Bartell a low-risk, high-reward contract worth $3 million for one year. He's expected to start as the No. 2 cornerback.
The start of this offseason has been eerily similar to the offseason the San Francisco 49ers had last season. Before the 2011 season had begun, the 49ers were rebuilding, but knew that they had the right pieces to win. They hired Trent Baalke as their new general manager and the young and charismatic Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach.
The Raiders face almost an identical situation. They have a new owner in Mark Davis, a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie and their own young and charismatic coach in Dennis Allen.
But the similarities don't stop there. Trent Baalke started his regime by trimming the fat, otherwise, the old and underachieving players. Nate Clements, who signed an eight-year deal worth $80 million in 2007, was perhaps the biggest release. Baalke let it be known that if you were not playing at the pace you should, you will be shown the door.
The Raiders have embraced the very same idea of thinking, releasing players like Stanford Routt, Hiram Eugene, Cooper Carlisle and Kamerion Wimbley. The Raiders started the new season in "salary cap hell," but now, find themselves comfortably under the cap.
After the 49ers released their underachievers, they played the patient game in free agency, skipping the big-name players. San Francisco was able to find players who would help their team dramatically. Playing on a one-year deal, Carlos Rogers had the season of his career where he intercepted six interceptions and was named to the Pro-Bowl. His presence was a big reason the 49ers defense were so good.
The 49ers also signed center Jonathan Goodwin, Donte Whitner and Braylon Edwards, all whom are capable of becoming impact players.
Clearly, San Francisco was modeling themselves after the other elite teams of the NFL such as the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens. It's been brought to light lately that teams who build through the draft are more likely to succeed than those who feed off other team's development, such as the Redskins.
While Al Davis did not go crazy over free agents all the time, there were a few mishap signings that went under his watch, but we don't need to bring those up. Instead, we can look at the new regime and how McKenzie has the Raiders building for the future.
The 49ers enjoyed their best season in a long time with this method of management. For the past five or so years, the 49ers have had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately, their team was plagued by offensive woes. It was not until Jim Harbaugh, an offensive specialist, came in and had a magical effect on the team.
The Raiders, on the other hand, have had two back-to-back mediocre seasons. Possessing one of the most explosive offenses in the league, the Raiders were hampered by their defense. While football is a team sport, it can be easily said that the Raiders defense was the reason for many losses. With that in mind. McKenzie sought out to look for the next defensive mastermind and seemed to find his man in Dennis Allen.
Raider fans and 49ers fans may not be the best of friends, but we, Raider Nation, have to admit that the 49ers' front office are geniuses for following the footsteps of the great teams in the league. Good thing we have a genius of our own in Reggie McKenzie. His actions will be a significant reason why the Raiders will become one of the NFL's elite teams once again.