After gutting a secondary filled to the brink with bad contracts, Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is beginning to rebuild it with low-cost, low-risk players.
Late last week, McKenzie signed former St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell to a one-year, $3 million deal, and he followed that acquisition up with a one-year deal for 30-year-old cornerback Shawntae Spencer, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. Pro Football Talk confirmed the agreement through a league source Monday.
To get the Raiders' runaway cap situation under control, McKenzie sent cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson packing before free agency began. While neither Bartell or Spencer match Routt in talent level, the veteran combination is costing the Raiders almost nothing.
Spencer, who spent eight years with the 49ers, lost his job early last season and was a game-day inactive for all but nine games. The team cut him last week.
Over eight years, Spencer did start 72 games and appeared in 26 others for the Niners. From 2009-10, Spencer intercepted five passes and defensed 19 others.
Unless the Raiders decide to sign Tracy Porter, who may still visit the team in coming days, the team may be set at the position until the NFL draft. Spencer and Bartell would be the early contenders to start, with DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chemdi Chekwa—2011 draft picks—given the chance for increased playing time.
It's certainly not the best cornerback situation in the NFL, but the Raiders are better for it cap-wise and down the road. Expect McKenzie, a disciple of Ted Thompson in Green Bay, to draft and develop players in building the roster.