The Raiders will undoubtedly spend quite a bit of money in free agency this offseason, but the significant amount of salary-cap space must first be used to re-sign some of their own key players.
Although the team does have a number of free agents whom it will be interested in bringing back, Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston top the list.
In his four years, Veldheer has established himself as one of the better young left tackles in league. While missing the majority of the season may have had an impact on the contract numbers he could demand, the Raiders are well-aware of his value and should pay him accordingly.
Houston himself is one of the league’s better young players on the defensive line and would draw plenty of interest if he hit the open market. The latter half of the 2013 season was far from his best, but the Raiders’ lack of depth at the position resulting in an incredibly high number of snaps for Houston must be taken into consideration.
Either way, re-signing both Veldheer and Houston should be the Raiders’ first priority this offseason, and doing so well before the franchise tag even comes into the discussion. Both are potential cornerstones to the future of this team, and the organization needs to make a point of keeping its homegrown talent.
Charles Woodson, Rashad Jennings, Vance Walker, Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, Usama Young and Khalif Barnes are all free agents as well and should be players whom the Raiders are interested in bringing back.
Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford, due to their decreased roles, are less certain to be priorities for the team before to free agency gets underway, but reasonable price tags could certainly change that as well.
Overall, the Raiders have a number of decisions to make on free agents of their own before they get into discussions with those from other teams around the league. Having as much salary-cap space as they do should allow for them to bring back the players they want to, but this team has the potential to look very different in 2014 regardless.