Well before the Oakland Raiders get to the 2013 NFL Draft, Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie will have some important decisions to make in the free agency period.
This time around, the Raiders are expected to be right up against the salary cap, rather than the significant amount over that they were last offseason. This, in tandem with some likely cost-cutting moves to come, will allow Reggie McKenzie at least a little bit of wiggle room to make some moves.
It’s easy enough to point out which free agents a given team should go after. However, moves that a team doesn’t make can quite often be just as important as the ones they do.
Here are the top five free agents that the Raiders should avoid at all costs this offseason.
Chiefs RB Peyton Hillis.
Ever since his dominant 2010 season, Peyton Hillis has been intriguing to many fan bases across the NFL. While there is certainly something to be said for depth at the running back position, the Raiders already have it.
Yes, Darren McFadden has certainly had trouble staying on the field, but Greg Olson’s new gap blocking scheme could very well see him approach the production he saw under Hue Jackson in 2010 and 2011.
If the Raiders can re-sign Mike Goodson, they will have two very capable runners behind McFadden in he and Marcel Reece. Of course, Reece plays the majority of his snaps as a fullback, but when given the opportunity he has shown a very impressive ability to make plays carrying the ball.
In addition, and quite possibly most importantly, Hillis’ play has been anything but impressive since his big 2010 season. Given that, and who the Raiders already have at running back, Peyton Hillis is definitely a player to stay away from on the free agent market.
Rams WR Danny Amendola.
When Danny Amendola is on the field, he can produce with some of the best receivers in the NFL.
The only problem is, and unfortunately so, he is just not on the field enough. Over the past two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Amendola has missed a total of 20 games.
His talent and playmaking ability, especially as a slot receiver, is undeniable. If that was the only thing to be considered, a player like him could be a perfect fit for the Raiders offense.
At the same time, Raiders fans are well aware of the injury issues that this team has had over the past few years. At this point, they would not be able to invest a competitive salary for a player with a tough injury history like Amendola.
Bengals LB Rey Maualuga.
With the Raiders likely to move on from MLB Rolando McClain, they will certainly explore possibilities of a free agent player to take over his starting spot.
Rey Maualuga entered the league as a second-round draft pick in 2009 with a lot of hype. Since then, his play has progressively fallen off. While he has continued to put up solid tackle numbers, it is in coverage that this is most evident.
To see his play rebound, Maualuga may just need a change of scenery like many players do. Unless he comes at a very affordable cost however, that is unlikely to be a risk that the Raiders are in any position to take as of right now.
Eagles CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
At first glance, a young and relatively proven cornerback like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie seems like a great fit for this rebuilding Raiders team. Not so fast.
Much of the media scrutiny in the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive backfield was directed at CB Nnamdi Asomugha. While he may not have received as much attention, Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in the Eagles' zone coverage looks as well.
For the Raiders, gone are the days of the predominantly man defenses where Rodgers-Cromartie could have his most success. In fact, with the scheme that Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver have implemented, mixing in significantly more zone looks, Rodgers-Cromartie would likely have similar struggles in Oakland.
Especially considering that his price will most certainly be driven up on the open market, the lack of scheme fit makes Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie another player that the Raiders should avoid.
Dolphins OT Jake Long.
Many will instantly find and point to the link between new assistant head coach/offensive line coach, Tony Sparano, and Jake Long. Of course, Sparano was the Miami Dolphins head coach when they selected Long first overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.
While history shows connections like that certainly play a part in free agent signings, Long is not a fit with the Raiders at this time.
In 2012 with Miami, Long’s play dropped off significantly. He is only 28, so he could certainly rebound in 2013. However, at the $10 million price that Long is reportedly seeking per year, the risk becomes that much more significant for the cap-strapped Raiders.
There is no question that the Raiders will look to upgrade several positions on the offensive line this offseason. Despite the level at which Jake Long is capable of playing, they would be better served to do so either through the draft, or with some more affordable free agent options.