Eric Risberg/Associated Press
Estimated Cap Space: $66.5 million
Positional Needs: quarterback, pass-rusher, offensive line, wide receiver, running back, safety, cornerback
It seems the Oakland Raiders have a need at every position except punter and kicker, and Sebastian Janikowski is no spring chicken.
Reggie McKenzie stepped into a minefield when he took the general manager gig in Oakland. The Raiders were a mess. Worse, they were in cap hell with no easy road out.
Two years later, McKenzie has successfully piloted the Raider Riverboat up some treacherous waters, and he enters the 2014 offseason with the most cap space in the league.
Of course, that doesn't mean the Raiders should just spend willy-nilly. Coming from the Ted Thompson school of general managing, though, it's unlikely McKenzie will go wild.
That is not to say he won't spend any of that hard-earned cap space, however. He has to spend a significant amount just to get under the 89-percent cap floor.
Bleacher Report's Chris Hansen has an offseason blueprint for the Raiders:
The problem isn’t necessarily getting to the minimum spending threshold; it’s finding the right talent to pay. The only current players who may deserve an extension before 2016 are center Stefen Wisniewski, wide receivers Denarius Moore and Rod Streater, and safety Tyvon Branch.
A center, a safety and two No. 2 wide receivers don’t exactly eat into the funds the Raiders need to spend. McKenzie really has no choice but to turn to free agency to fill the gaps on the roster and to reach the minimum salary threshold.
Given that the Raiders have to spend eventually, agents would be crazy not to at least check with them before letting their clients sign with another team—especially agents with young free agents. When they do come calling, the Raiders may be able to offer what many other teams won’t: another opportunity for a big payday at or before they turn 30.
McKenzie will also need to spend significant money to keep two of their best players, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and pass rusher Lamarr Houston. There shouldn't be much of an issue there, though they might be forced to put the franchise tag on Houston.