Breaking Down Oakland Raiders' 2013 Salary Cap: Where Is Money Best Spent?

Dan Wilkins@@DanWilkinsNFLCorrespondent IIJanuary 14, 2013

Breaking Down Oakland Raiders' 2013 Salary Cap: Where Is Money Best Spent?

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    Heading into the 2013 NFL offseason, GM Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders will once again have a lot of work to do in regards to the salary cap. 

    As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur writes, the Raiders are once again expected to be right up against that cap. 

    Outside of the voiding Richard Seymour deal, the Raiders' five biggest contracts, belonging to Carson Palmer, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tommy Kelly, Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff, are projected to account for a staggering $59,055,684 against the salary cap in 2013. That total equates to 48.8 percent of the projected NFL salary cap of $121 million. 

    Consequently, any high-profile moves are extremely unlikely for at least another season. 

    Considering all of which, where the Raiders’ current salary cap money is being best spent is in some of their less expensive players. In fact, one could argue that it is these players whom are the most productive on the roster. 

    In what is an improving (considering where it was) but still tight salary cap situation, here is a look at five Raiders players where money is well spent.

DE Lamarr Houston

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    Lamarr Houston has quietly become one of, if not the most consistent player on this entire Raiders roster. 

    His quickness is great for his size, and he is extremely difficult to move off the ball in the running game. While Houston’s pass rush has yet to reach similar success, a possible move to the interior defensive line in 2013 could help that area significantly. 

    Even better for the Raiders is that Houston will count just $1,078,750 against the cap in the 2013 season. The following year he will be a restricted free agent. 

    Considering he is one of the team’s better overall players, the Raiders continue to get great value from Lamarr Houston.

LT Jared Veldheer

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    Since being drafted out of Division II Hillsdale in 2010, Raiders LT Jared Veldheer has become their most reliable offensive lineman. 

    In an NFL filled with elite pass-rushers, the LT is quite understandably one of the highest paid positions there is. Yet, the Raiders are getting solid play out of Veldheer for what is essentially a bargain price. 

    Still on his rookie contract, Veldheer will count just $798,750 against the cap in 2013. After which, Veldheer becomes a free agent, and the cost to re-sign him will no doubt be much greater. 

    However, for the time being, the Raiders have been getting much more than they bargained for from Veldheer, and at one of the most important positions on the field.

C Stefen Wisniewski

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    In the 2013 season, Raiders starting C Stefen Wisniewski will account for just $1,127,837 of the team’s salary cap space

    In his rookie year, in 2011, we saw Wisniewski’s potential. In 2012, where he was initially injured and well behind in learning the offensive blocking schemes, we saw his emerging value. 

    When he returned to the lineup and acclimated himself to the system, the Raiders offensive line was remarkably better. 

    While there are still pieces to be added around he and Jared Veldheer up front, there is no doubt that the Raiders have their center to build the line around in Stefen Wisniewski.

WR Denarius Moore

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    Although he may have seemingly taken a step back in 2012, Raiders fans are well aware of what Denarius Moore can do on a football field. 

    Clearly, Moore was not much of a fit for Greg Knapp’s West Coast offense this past season. His skill set is better suited to getting down the field and stretching the defense. 

    We saw that very big-play ability in 2011 under Hue Jackson’s vertical offense, and we can expect that the Raiders’ new offensive coordinator will use Moore in the same ways. 

    For the explosive playmaking that Moore brings, he is another player that the Raiders are getting significant value from. 

    Counting just $602,625 against the cap in 2013, Denarius Moore is certainly a player to build around now and for years to come.

LB Miles Burris

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    After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, Miles Burris started at WLB for the Raiders from Day 1. While he was by no means a finished product, Burris showed the makings of a very promising NFL linebacker. 

    By midseason, Burris had taken over for Rolando McClain in the nickel package, becoming an every-down linebacker. By season’s end, he was second on the team in tackles with 96. 

    Looking ahead, Dennis Allen has mentioned the possibility of moving Burris to MLB next season. Counting just $555,146 against the salary cap in 2013 and under contract through the 2015 season, Miles Burris is certainly money well spent if he proves to be the Raiders’ MLB of the future.