There are few teams with as many needs as the Oakland Raiders heading into the 2014 free-agency period.
After all, Oakland has suffered through 11 straight non-winning seasons, and 4-12 marks the last two years.
Will the Raiders win more than four games in 2014?
The Raiders are going to need a number of pieces to become competitive in the immediate future, especially with the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs all coming off of playoff campaigns.
A good place to start is the 2014 free-agency class and the upcoming NFL draft. Oakland has the most cap room in the entire NFL at more than $64 million per Albert Breer of the NFL Network (and more than $65 million per Spotrac.com):
And as for '14 cap room, here are the teams that have most now ... Raiders $64.3M, Jags $59.3M, Browns $49.9M, Colts $41.0M, Dolphins $35.2M— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 6, 2014
Looking forward, any hopes of competing for a playoff spot in 2014 are more complicated than simply spending all of that money in free agency.
As mentioned, the division is loaded with playoff teams already, plus the Raiders will play the formidable NFC West this season. It’s hard to see Oakland racking up enough wins with that schedule, but adding pieces in the offseason will certainly help.
One thing Oakland has done in the offseason is offer contract tenders to six exclusive-rights free agents, including cornerback Chimdi Chekwa.
Here is a comprehensive look at the Raiders’ 2014 free agents:
|Player||Position||2014 Team||Contract Details|
|Lamarr Houston||DE||Bears||5-year. $35 million|
|Darren McFadden||RB||Raiders||1-year, $4 million|
|Jared Veldheer||T||Cardinals||5-year, $35 million|
|Charles Woodson||S||Raiders||One year|
|Darren McFadden||RB||1 year, $4 million||B-|
|Lamarr Woodley||OLB||2 years, $12 million max||B|
|Justin Tuck||DE||2 years, $11 million||B|
|Antonio Smith||DL||2 years, $9 million||A-|
|Tarell Brown||CB||1 year, $3.5 million||B+|
|Donald Penn||OT||Terms not disclosed||B|
Rodger Saffold (OL)
Updates from Mar. 12
Oakland Tribune reporter Jerry McDonald reports that Saffold failed his physical and will not be signing:
Breaking: Rodger Saffold failed a physical and won't be joining the Raiders. Back to the drawing board .. .— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) March 13, 2014
Darren McFadden (RB)
In more pleasant news, Darren McFadden will be back in silver and gold next season. The 2008 first-round pick signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal that could be worth up to $4 million, per Schefter. The base of McFadden's deal is $1.75 million, with incentives that could add another $2.25 million
It's hard to argue much with this deal. McFadden hasn't really been effective on a down-by-down basis in two years, and he's still yet to play a full NFL season. But it's a cheap deal for a talented running back who still hasn't turned 27 yet. We'll go with a big, beautiful B.
It’s safe to say that the Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin combination didn’t inspire Super Bowl dreams in Oakland last season.
Sure, Pryor makes plays with his legs and could fit in somewhere with more talented teammates, but neither is the long-term answer at quarterback. The Raiders may use their No. 5 pick on a quarterback or look for a short-term answer like Josh McCown.
The only way this offseason can realistically be considered a success is if Oakland improves its outlook at quarterback.
Tyvon Branch is the only sure thing in the secondary right now, and even he has health concerns.
Oakland clearly has the cap room to make a move in the secondary, and there are a number of potential cornerbacks to fill this area of need. What’s more, options like Captain Munnerlyn and Alterraun Verner would provide talent and youth, which is the ideal fit for the rebuilding efforts going on in Oakland right now.
The list of Raiders free agents is littered with defensive linemen.
Even if Oakland brings one or two of those pieces back, it will still need more depth and production on the line.
Unfortunately for Raiders fans, Greg Hardy received the franchise tag from Carolina. Considering the cap room Oakland has and its dire need for an effective pass-rusher, Hardy would have made sense as a potential option.
Raiders Free-Agency Rumors
Rodger Saffold on the Way?
When your franchise is in the early or middle stages of a rebuilding project, finding young talent that is versatile is a good place to start.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reported the following about the Raiders’ interest in 25-year-old Rodger Saffold: “St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Rodger Saffold is expected to sign with the Oakland Raiders for roughly $8 million per year, but he is still in talks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
Saffold is versatile enough to play guard or tackle and could fit on either side of the line.
If the Raiders do draft a young quarterback, improving the protection around him will be important. Saffold is a solid place to start.
A Matt Schaub Renaissance in Oakland?
Marc Sessler of NFL.com and NFL Media Insider Ian Rapport noted that the Raiders are one of the teams interested in veteran quarterback Matt Schaub.
However, this is working under the assumption that the Houston Texans will release Schaub, which may not be a guarantee if Andre Johnson’s comments at his celebrity golf classic that were passed along by Dave Zangaro of CSNHouston.com are any indication:
I talked to him, I think it was two weeks ago. I get the feeling that he feels like he’s going to be here. He was texting the guys and telling us about his golf tournament and stuff like that.
As long as Matt is my teammate, me and Matt are going to be working together. Hopefully he’s still here. That’s out of my control but we’ll see what happens.
Schaub struggled in 2013, but he at least has experienced some success in the past and would provide a veteran presence at the quarterback position.
If nothing else, he could mentor a young draftee and even fill in as the starter for a year while the rookie learns the ropes.
Raiders Looking For Another Running Back?
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports on one potential name:
The Raiders are also in pursuit of Justin Tuck, and NFL.com's Mike Silver reports that the door is still open on that front:
Meanwhile, Justin Tuck's visit with the Raiders is not over. He's dining with the team tonight.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 13, 2014