Raiders' 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space
Believe it or not, looking at the Oakland Raiders' salary-cap situation heading into the 2014 offseason is really good way to put a smile on your face.
With an estimated $63.6 million to work with, the Raiders have enough cash to not only retain some of their key players, but they will also be able to go out and pursue a few big names in free agency.
Despite having a ton of cap room, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie needs to listen to Walter White and "tread lightly." Understanding that the art of smart spending is going to be critical for this franchise moving forward, McKenzie has be careful about which players he re-signs and which players he goes after in free agency.
Wasteful contracts like the ones handed out to wide receiver Javon Walker in 2008 and cornerback DeAngelo Hall that same year are reason enough to hope that Oakland's front office makes sure this surplus of money is used for the greater good.
That being said, it's time to start the slideshow and break down Oakland's position-specific cap space in 2014.
All cap information courtesy of OverTheCap.com unless noted otherwise.
All stats courtesy of NFL.com unless noted otherwise.
Overall Salary-Cap Situation
Estimated 2014 Cap Room: $63.6 million
As noted in the previous slide, the Raiders enter the 2014 offseason with an estimated $63.6 million in cap room.
Despite the generous surplus of cash hovering around the organization, that doesn't mean the team should go out and overspend this offseason in order to fix its problems. The goal for McKenzie and his staff is to recruit and sign enough talent to help improve this roster without breaking the bank and crippling the team's future.
The good news from a financial standpoint is Oakland is finally in a good place to propel itself back into the stratosphere of contention.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $1.9 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $851,517 (Terrelle Pryor)
The biggest question leading up to the 2014 season is going to be, what should the Raiders do with their current quarterback situation? Because of the inconsistent play of Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, the door has been left open for a new signal-caller to come in and take the reins.
Designated with the fifth overall pick in the upcoming 2014 draft, the Raiders are projected by CBSSports.com analyst Rob Rang to go after quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round.
If the decision is made to pursue Manziel or even another QB prospect later on in the draft, that would likely close the book on either Pryor or McGloin's brief career in Oakland.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $4.4 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $3.9 million (Marcel Reece)
Having just $4.4 million allocated to the running back position, the Raiders will have more than enough cash to go out and find themselves a starting running back this offseason.
With Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings both set to hit free agency, McKenzie will have to decide whose services are worth retaining.
For health and productivity reasons, logic dictates that the right answer is to bring back Jennings. Averaging 4.5 yards per carry last season, Jennings was able to contribute whenever his number was called on.
On the other hand, the heart says roll the dice on McFadden one more time.
Despite possessing all the game-breaking ability in the world, McFadden has been one those guys whose career has been abused by injuries. As dazzling as he can be on the field, having played 13 games in a season just once over a six-year span, Run DMC doesn't seem like a player worth throwing any more money at.
Maybe it's because the Raiders have a talented dual-threat running back like Marcel Reece still under contract or second-year player Latavius Murray is still floating around the roster—either way, Oakland should feel confident that it has guys it can count on next season.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $3.9 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $692,513 (Denarius Moore)
If there's one wide receiver on the Raiders' roster who you could argue deserves a long-term contract extension, it's Denarius Moore.
Engulfed in the treacherous flames of poor quarterback play, Moore has emerged as a quality target for this Raiders franchise. At just 25 years old, Moore's diverse skill set jumps off the screen whenever you watch him on film.
Skills aside, what you have to like most about Moore is what he does off the field.
As Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group pointed out, in a league saturated with outspoken wide receivers, Moore is a guy who's more "introverted by nature."
Finding a way to make sure Moore stays in Oakland is just the first step to building a strong receiving corps.
With Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com (h/t CBSSports.com) pointing out that 19 underclassmen at the wide receiver position have already declared for the upcoming draft, this year's class is going to have lot of talented young players the Raiders can get for pennies on the dollar.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $2.1 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $656,475 (David Ausberry)
Despite not having a marquee name playing the position, the Raiders are in good shape financially when it comes to their tight ends.
With young guys like Mychal Rivera, Nick Kasa and David Ausberry on the roster, Oakland has a core of players who will be able to contribute once they get comfortable with the speed of the pro game.
Because of the youth and cheap salaries associated with the position, the Raiders should stick with what they have and steer clear of free agency. Names like Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller and Scott Chandler highlight an underwhelming crop of tight ends set to hit the open market later this year.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $9.9 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $5.3 million (Mike Brisiel)
Arguably the biggest free-agent move the Raiders need to make this offseason is bringing back left tackle Jared Veldheer.
After being placed on short-term injured reserve to start the 2013 season, Veldheer managed to find his way back into the Raiders' lineup last November.
Struggling to find his rhythm after coming off IR, in order to fully understand how valuable of an asset he is to this franchise, you have to go back to the 2012 season. Using Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) advanced statistics as a benchmark, Veldheer graded out as the 12th-best tackle in the NFL during that time period.
An absolutely dominant pass-blocker when healthy, re-signing Veldheer is going to be a critical factor for the long-term success of this franchise.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $3.5 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $645,000 (David Carter)
With Lamarr Houston and Jason Hunter set to hit free agency, Oakland is in desperate need of finding productive bodies to throw on its defensive line.
While securing depth is important, the biggest decision McKenzie has to make this offseason will be figuring out what Houston's future is in Oakland. Serving as one of the most disruptive forces on the Raiders defense, Houston has finished the last two seasons as one of PFF's top-ranked defensive ends.
Expressing his feelings on becoming a free agent, Houston told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that he believes Oakland might be not be looking to retain his services because of schematic reasons.
Comments like that make it difficult to picture the former Texas Longhorn returning to the silver and black.
Still, with all of that cap room and the lack of depth currently on the roster, throwing a bunch of money at a proven 26-year-old defensive end doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $12.6 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $3.7 million (Nick Roach)
Aside from Sio Moore's breakout rookie campaign, the production the Raiders got out of their linebacking crew last season was spotty. Using PFF's grading system, guys like Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett both finished the season with negative marks.
Thankfully, advanced statistics aren't the only way to judge a player. For example, if you dive a little bit deeper into the glorious world of research, you would see that Roach led all NFL middle linebackers in sacks and forced fumbles during the 2013 season.
With just $12.6 million dedicated to their linebacking corps, the Raiders will have the luxury of going out and adding players to bolster their roster via free agency or the draft.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $12.2 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $7.1 million (Tyvon Branch)
As it stands right now, the Raiders have around $12.2 million allocated to their secondary. Accounting for $7.1 million of that is safety Tyvon Branch.
There's no doubt about it, free agency is going to be important for the growth of Oakland's secondary. With guys like Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter, Usama Young and Mike Jenkins all set to hit the open market, the Raiders are going to have to sit down and decide who needs to be on this roster for the long haul.
With Branch back next season and cornerback D.J. Hayden entering his sophomore campaign, Oakland could end up with a pretty solid secondary if things fall into place.
Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $4.7 million
Highest 2014 Cap Number: $3 million (Sebastian Janikowski)
Hitting just 74 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2013, Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn't look like himself this past season. Regardless, Janikowski's long-term contract means the former Florida State Seminole is likely going to be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
With the rest of Oakland's money divided up between punter Marquette King and long snapper Jon Condo, this special teams unit looks like it's ready to rock in 2014.