Once again, the Oakland Raiders will head into the 2013 free agency period with very little cap space, yet a lot of work to do.
As much as everyone wants to see their team go after the top free agents available, it won't be a realistic option for the Raiders for at least a few more years. In Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen's second year, we can still expect the organizational turnover to continue, but via some more affordable additions.
Here is a realistic free agent wish list for the Oakland Raiders, with heavy consideration toward their current position with the salary cap.
Max Starks would be a reliable veteran option at tackle.
The offensive line targets will be difficult to judge heading into the offseason, as much of it will depend on Greg Knapp's job, or lack thereof. If Knapp is retained as offensive coordinator, then the zone scheme will likely stay. If not, any blocking scheme is possible.
With that said, it is evident that the Raiders need to upgrade the offensive line either way. The position of RT, currently held by Khalif Barnes, could be the number one priority.
A veteran tackle like Max Starks makes sense, as he would pick up the blocking scheme quite quickly. Coming off injury in 2011, Starks was not expected to be brought back by the Steelers this season. Eventually, he was, also taking back his starting job in the process.
There will be several free agent tackles that are rewarded with big contracts this offseason, and Max Starks would provide the Raiders with a less expensive, but still reliable option.
Glenn Dorsey could thrive in a 4-3 scheme.
When Glenn Dorsey was drafted out of LSU back in 2008, he was considered to have the potential of a dominant player at the next level. Put into the Chiefs 3-4 front as an end, different from the 4-3 tackle position he played in college, it took him some time to adjust.
As a result, his play has not been to the level that was to be expected considering his draft position, and he could prove to be a very affordable signing this offseason. At the same time, there is reason to believe that a switch back to his natural position, as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, could allow him to reach his full potential.
It is no secret that the Raiders need help on the interior defensive line. The run defense has been spotty at best, and the pass rush has been non-existent. Not to mention, both Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, who are getting older, may not be brought back in 2013.
Glenn Dorsey would be a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Raiders, as he could flourish moving back to his natural position.
At 32, Rashean Mathis can still play CB at a high level.
The Raiders veteran CB signings of Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer in 2012 did not exactly work out. While they could very well opt for younger players at the position, Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis is an intriguing option.
Mathis has fallen out of his role in Jacksonville, one year removed from an ACL injury in November of 2011. However, we must remember the common trend that it takes players at least a full year of play after such an injury to return to their previous form.
That could very well be the case for Mathis, as it was not too long ago that he was one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.
A low-risk option, the veteran presence that the 32 year-old Mathis would bring at the CB position would be welcomed by the Raiders. His sporadic playing time down the stretch in Jacksonville could lower his open market value, making him a great possible signing for the Raiders, as he returns to full strength in 2013.
Greg Jennings is the kind of No. 1 WR the Raiders need.
While the Raiders have some young talent at WR, they have yet to find that No. 1 target that can be relied upon game after game. If Greg Jennings, who turns 30 next season, stays within the Raiders spending range, expect Reggie McKenzie, who was in Green Bay with Jennings, to be very interested.
Jennings has had some injury struggles in recent seasons, which could certainly impact his value. However, when healthy, he has shown the ability to consistently get open and make plays with the best of receivers in the league.
To have a shot at signing him, the Raiders would have to hope that the presence of Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, and Wes Welker on the free agent market thus lowers Jennings' price. Considering the contracts that they would demand, that situation is quite possible.
Jennings would be a great signing for the Raiders, as he would step in as their No. 1 WR, and lead their young group of players at the position.
Sean Smith will be one of the better available CBs this offseason.
Just 25 years old, Sean Smith has progressively gotten better in his time with the Miami Dolphins.
While he likely won't get a massive deal this offseason, his play, as well as his 6'3, 214 pound frame as a CB, will garner quite a bit of interest around the league. If he does remain in the Raiders spending range this offseason, he should be their number one target.
For the Raiders, CB is one of, if not the highest priority to improve moving forward. Sean Smith would instantly become their number one CB, with the size and speed to matchup against the NFL's biggest and most dominant receivers.
It will be a matter of available cap space, but Sean Smith would be one of the best possible and realistic additions for the Raiders this offseason.