5 Players the Oakland Raiders Should Target After Today's NFL Cuts
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With the NFL cut down to 53 players due for all 32 teams by 9 p.m. EST, it is a wild day for speculation and roster turnover for every team. For the Oakland Raiders, roster predictions are already running rampant by insiders.
That said, cuts will be made all the way up to the deadline. The preseason showed that the Raiders have a lot of talent on the top end of the roster, but lack depth at many key positions. Some players that have been let go could be perfect in silver and black.
Here are my top five roster cuts that the Raiders could benefit most from picking them up.
No. 5: Evan Moore, TE
Solid pass catching tight end, Moore would be great in Oakland
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As it stands right now, the Raiders have one somewhat consistent threat to catch passes at the tight end position, the very average Brandon Myers. If Myers gets hurt, there is a gaping hole at the position. Unfortunately, Richard Gordon has not shown himself to be much more than a short yardage blocker, and David Ausberry still has not distinguished himself.
Of the cuts that have been made at the tight end position, the Raiders could use Evan Moore the most.
A solid possession receiver, Moore snagged 34 receptions and scored four touchdowns for the Cleveland Browns in 2011. That happened in spite of starting only four games. The knock on Moore has been health, but he has only missed four games in the last two seasons.
The Raiders would be wise to give him a look.
Player affected: David Ausberry. I think Ausberry may be in trouble anyway as the Oakland may initially go with only two tight ends to try and fill voids elsewhere. But right now, Moore would represent an upgrade in production at the spot for the Raiders.
No. 4: Rock Cartwright, RB/Special Teams
A class act, Cartwright would be a big boost to Oakland's special teams
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Yes, I know the more pressing need for the Raiders' special teams is a returner. Roscoe Parrish could very well be here today, gone tomorrow after his two-fumble debacle in Seattle. With Jacoby Ford possibly unavailable for the Monday Night Football opener against the San Diego Chargers, the void looms even larger at both punt and kick return specialist.
However, the coverage teams have not exactly been great either.
As I stated (for a reason) earlier this year, I feel Sebastian Janikowski is the most important player for the 2012 Raiders. That said, assuming he can't put every kickoff into the end zone, the Raiders will need coverage teams players.
That is precisely where Rock Cartwright comes in.
An ace for the 2010 and 2011 Raiders, Cartwright himself stated that the 49ers have let him go. Another slam dunk signing in my estimation, Cartwright brings leadership and a special teams pedigree the current roster lacks. He could also be a spot duty runner if necessity dictated it.
Player affected: Mike Goodson. Goodson has not necessarily bombed or been particularly bad in the preseason, but then again, he has not exactly made anyone forget that Michael Bush is in Chicago now either. Versatility could be the name of the game here, and Taiwan Jones would emerge with a larger role in this event.
No. 3: Greg Jones, LB
Jones (recovering football) would give Raiders much needed depth at LB spot
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According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the New York Giants waived linebacker Greg Jones this morning. A sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones started five games and played in all 16 for the Super Bowl champions.
With Aaron Curry all but certain to be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, that leaves Oakland with Travis Goethel, Nathan Stupar and possibly Carl Ihenacho to back up starters Miles Burris, Rolando McClain and Phillip Wheeler.
With all due respect to Goethel, Stupar and Ihenacho, Jones would be the fourth best active linebacker immediately and could even press Burris for his spot.
Of course, that's only if the Raiders made a play to sign him.
Wheeler looked like the best free-agent defensive signing, since Derrick Burgess and Stupar did play well in the preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks. But the team needs depth and it has been a theme of Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen since they began work earlier this year.
Player affected: Ihenacho. While potentially a serviceable edge rusher, Ihenacho does not have the experience or meet the need the Raiders have as well as Jones would.
No. 2: Danny Ware, RB
Ware would be a huge upgrade for the Raiders at RB
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Another former New York Giant makes the list at No. 2 in the person of Danny "D.J." Ware. Ware played with the Giants for five years, winning two Super Bowls before being let go this morning.
Unlike other potential free-agent running backs, like Tim Hightower (who was released by the Washington Redskins), Ware could return kicks and back up Darren McFadden. In his most productive season last year, Ware carried the ball 46 times for 163 yards and caught 27 passes for 170 yards.
Best of all for the Raiders, his price tag would not be high, and in light of the performances in the preseason, Ware has only fumbled once in his five year career. This would be another productive signing and a clear upgrade in versatility and depth.
Player affected: Goodson. Again, Mike Goodson is solid, but his propensity to fumble just does not make him someone I would trust in the event of a Darren McFadden injury. And he is not the returner Ware has been consistently.
No. 1: Joselio Hanson, CB
Hanson immediately becomes Oakland's best slot CB
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The No. 1 cut casualty the Raiders would benefit from is Joselio Hanson, recently of the Philadelphia Eagles. A slot cornerback, Hanson was let go by the Eagles today and will be coveted by many other teams.
Signing Hanson does two things for the Raiders: First and foremost, it moves Michael Huff out of the slot corner position where he has been overmatched at times and never very comfortable even at his best. Two, it firmly entrenches three solid professionals in the lineup, along with starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer.
The reality has been that DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa are still liabilities in the secondary, with Van Dyke particularly shaky outside.
Player affected: Bryan McCann. This is even more true if someone like Danny Ware signs with the Raiders. At this point, McCann only makes the roster as a returner and does not give you much as a defender. Oakland's corners can only be strengthened, so a signing like Hanson would help the defense more than losing McCann would hurt the special teams.
Never more than a backup, Wallace is much more mobile than Leinart
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Some of the other roster cuts the Raiders might be intrigued by are quarterback Seneca Wallace, wide receiver Deion Branch, and running back Tim Hightower.
Branch in particular would be curious simply because the fragility of the Raiders wide receiver corps could mean two undrafted free agents may be on the 53 man roster (Rod Streater and Travionte Session). Ask yourself, would you rather have Deion Branch or Travionte Session in the event of injuries to Denarious Moore and/or Jacoby Ford?
To be fair, it is always silly to take too much away from the preseason. There is next to no game planning, winning is secondary to health, and almost half of the rosters are trimmed. However, there is no doubt that Oakland's overall team depth was shown to be lacking.
The next few hours and days will go quite a ways to helping rectify that if Reggie McKenzie can make some specific moves.
A new reality of the NFL is that sometimes other teams have more talent than they can keep. And as a result, shrewd teams can improve their rosters by benefiting from this imbalance.
The Oakland Raiders are in prime position to make some final tune-ups to a roster heavy at the top, but lacking towards the bottom. The best part is, we won't have to wait long to see if these changes will happen.