The potential exists for a breakout season for the Oakland Raiders offense in 2012.
However, this doesn’t mean the Silver and Black don’t have areas that are questions marks, and the main one that jumps out is the tight-end position.
The Silver and Black Report lists the top three TEs on the Raiders depth chart as Brandon Myers, David Ausberry and Richard Gordon. While I have already voiced a vote of confidence for the rookie TE David Ausberry, he could of course use a veteran presence to help tutor him and show him the ropes of life as an NFL tight end.
Enter Jeremy Shockey.
According to NFL.com, as of July 20, the two-time Super Bowl champion was perusing the free agent market. Shockey made only $4 million in 2011—coincidentally roughly the cap space that the Raiders have freed after removing the franchise tender from star safety Tyvon Branch (per the San Franciso Chronicle).
Over the past three seasons, Shockey has averaged about 40 receptions and just over three touchdowns.
The Raiders would have a nearly perfectly well-rounded collection of weapons for Carson Palmer to use with Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece out of the backfield and slot; Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey out wide; and Ausberry to complement the 6’5” 250-pound Jeremy Shockey at TE.
The main question that this move does not address is who will back up star running back Darren McFadden.
What position do the Raiders need to address first?
The Oakland front office has shown visible interest in former Bengal Cedric Benson, and while he would be another excellent piece to add to the offense, Shockey would be better.
Taiwan Jones should prove to be a capable back and did have some success in limited opportunities in his rookie year behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.
The Raiders don’t have that type of talent and depth at TE.
A secondary concern with Shockey is the money that the former All-Pro will demand. But really this should not be much of a problem because Shockey has proven to be a team player.
In a conversation with The Charlotte Observer, Shockey said that he was excited to be a member of the Panthers last year because “you see people grow, and you know it's going to be a special team. You want to be a part of that.”
While he may not be a part of that promising young team, he should see that the Raiders are another team with a tremendous upside.
And the Raiders would be equally as wise to court the four-time Pro Bowler.