Oakland Raiders: 3 Free Agents the Raiders Should Target
For the Oakland Raiders, the roster is slowly starting to crystallize with early free-agency netted players like Pat Sims, Tracy Porter, Nick Roach and Mike Jenkins, among others. The draft brought in 10 players with at least half being realistic bets to make the opening game roster.
There was even a pair of trades who essentially swapped the starting quarterback: Carson Palmer was sent to Arizona and Matt Flynn was traded from Seattle. Currently, there are four spots remaining (86 of 90) on the offseason roster.
Looking at the Raiders currently, there are still plenty of spots that could use not just talent boosts but depth. In terms of what can realistically be expected, I see three players the Raiders could add (likely after June 1st) who could give the 2013 team a true boost.
Here they are...
No. 3: Israel Idonije, DE (Chicago)
The first selection is a personal favorite of mine. Having seen Israel Idonije and the Chicago Bears front four up close, there is a clear undervaluing of his talents on the free-agent market.
All Idonije has done is help anchor an opportunistic Bears defense in the last three years while not missing a game and starting 42 of 48 games. During that span, he amassed 20.5 sacks, forced six fumbles and recovered two. Not bad on a line that saw Julius Peppers dominate the praise and attention.
For the Raiders, Idonije would arguably be their best end and could help what looks like a weak unit on paper. His presence could enable Lamarr Houston to possibly slide inside on occasion or give the Raiders a proven pair of bookends who are stout against the run.
Perhaps the reason Idonije is still on the market is his age (will be 33 in mid-November), but at this point, the price could not be all that steep for an effective defender. He's definitely someone the Raiders should consider.
No. 2: Brandon Moore, OG (NY Jets)
The No. 2 free-agent target for the Oakland Raiders is offensive guard Brandon Moore. For reasons I am not sure, Moore is still on the market. After a Pro Bowl season in 2011, Moore had a very good year in 2012.
In terms of his abilities, Moore can run-block as well as most interior linemen in the game. And on the whole, he more than sufficient in pass protection—even as Mark Sanchez struggled for the Jets. Moore is also extremely durable and reliable, starting all 16 games each year since 2005.
Like Idonije, the likely culprit for Moore's availability is his age. But at 33, there is no reason to believe Moore still doesn't have fuel in the tank. So how does he fit with the Raiders?
Well, like Idonije, I think Moore becomes the Raiders best at his position. Yes, even better than Stefan "Little Wiz" Wisniewski. Moore would arguably be the Raiders best offensive lineman. He production dictates that. Perhaps the Raiders are reluctant to sign more stop-gap players, but this is another case of a player who makes the team better.
Better yet, with a soft market, Moore would not be nearly as pricey as his performance should indicate. If I was Reggie McKenzie, I would definitely make a play for Moore. And yet, Moore is not the top target in the remaining crop of free agents. You probably already know who that is.
No. 1: Charles Woodson, FS (Green Bay)
Yes, the No. 1 pick is free-agent safety Charles Woodson. Maybe you have heard of him if you're a Raider fan.
It seemed like a pipe dream as recently as a week ago that a reunion could happen between Woodson and the Raiders. That was until a quote directly from Woodson himself, courtesy of the NFL Network:
“When this process first started out, that was my thing, I needed to go to a contender. I know I am towards the end of my career. At this point, I want to play football. So if it is a rebuilding stage, at this point if that is the circumstances I have to play under, then that is what I am going to do.”
In other words, the curious lack of interest has expanded Woodson to the possibility of playing for a team who isn't necessarily projected to be elite. With all due respect to Usama Young, who is a solid NFL safety, if the Raiders could bring Charles Woodson into the fold, they should jump at the chance.
Quickly name the last great free safety the Raiders put on the field.
If you said Rod Woodson, there are two things you should take out of that:
One, Woodson was 37 in 2002 when he earned All-Pro honors in helping lead the Raiders to their last postseason and Super Bowl appearance. Two, that's 10 years—Stuart Schweigert, Michael Huff, Matt Giordano, etc.
Again, for a secondary that needs as much help as it can get, prior acquisitions not withstanding, bringing in Woodson almost makes too much sense.
And let's be clear: The Packers did not release him because he can't play. It was a salary-based decision. The Raiders should offer Woodson an honest contract and let a real locker room leader—don't flash back to 2004, Woodson has grown leaps and bounds in that department—help the transition and performance of this team on defense.
Three quality free agents, three positions that can stand to be upgraded from the perspective of the Oakland Raiders and three signings who would not cost nearly as much as say, March 15th:
While I have been in the camp of "general manager Reggie McKenzie is making the best meal out of slop", there is still time and space for opportunity.
I understand that the Raiders want to completely turnover an underachieving, overpaid and at times, dispirited roster. But it is not required that you must get rid of everything before bringing in replacements.
The trio of Idonije, Moore and Woodson are the kinds of free agents who this team may have either overpaid for or undervalued.
And while I laud McKenzie's fiscal constraints, there is still no reason not to try and make the roster better on the whole—which is to say, there are good players who can upgrade the roster floating out. I can't say for sure that McKenzie hasn't reached. I am saying, if he hasn't, he should.