Ranking Oakland Raiders' Best Remaining Free-Agency Options
Having plenty of salary cap space to use, the Raiders have already been quite active in the free-agent process thus far.
With signings of proven veterans on defense, the Raiders are placing a value on experience and rightfully so considering the amount of young players already on the team and soon to be added in the draft.
Having said that, they are most certainly not done yet and should remain among the busiest teams throughout the remainder of the free-agency period.
Ranked in consideration of both the player and the roster need they would fill, here are the five best remaining free-agent options for the Oakland Raiders.
1. DT Henry Melton
The Raiders have done well to address the defensive front so far this offseason, already adding proven veteran presences in Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith.
Even so, they could still stand to further upgrade the interior line, and arguably the year’s best free-agent defensive tackle in Henry Melton is still available.
Of course, Melton is recovering from ACL surgery, but it is still quite a surprise that he remains unsigned to this point.
The Raiders have more than enough money to spend and should be able to outbid any of the other teams involved should they make him their next free-agent target.
While Melton would likely play the same 3-technique defensive tackle position that the newly signed Smith will hold, the potential for establishing a quality defensive line rotation should be something that interests the Raiders significantly.
2. CB Carlos Rogers
The Raiders have already made an offseason addition at cornerback with the signing of free-agent Tarell Brown, but they likely won’t be done there.
Still in need of a corner capable of playing the slot, Brown’s teammate in San Francisco, Carlos Rogers, should be on the Raiders’ radar as well.
Rogers was released to save some much needed cap space for the 49ers, but he is still extremely productive in the slot/nickel role. Finding such a player is rare but increasingly important in the passing league the NFL has become.
The Raiders could likely make Rogers an offer somewhere near the one-year $3.5 million deal they signed Brown to this past week and could come away with a significantly improved secondary overall.
Rogers will be 33 this season, and although there are younger players out there, he has proven capable of still playing at a high level and brings some added experience to the position.
If the Raiders could head into next season with a starting cornerback unit of Tarell Brown, D.J. Hayden and Carlos Rogers, as well as possibly sign Mike Jenkins for added depth, it would make for the strongest group they’ve had at the position in quite some time.
3. OL Donald Penn
After missing out on both Jared Veldheer and Rodger Saffold, there was a fairly sizable hole to fill on the Raiders offensive front.
A second-round pick in 2013, Menelik Watson could very well turn out to be the team’s future at left tackle, but they cannot afford to bank on that working itself out for this upcoming season.
As such, left tackle should remain a focus throughout the remainder of free agency, and one of the top remaining linemen overall is Donald Penn.
Released when the Buccaneers opted to sign Anthony Collins to a long-term deal, Penn is not the youngest option available, but he comes with plenty of experience and success at the NFL level.
As was to be expected, the Raiders have already been in contact with and hosted Penn on a free-agent visit and could still have a chance at signing him.
With the Raiders, Penn would likely start at the left tackle spot he held for many years in Tampa Bay, allowing the team more time to develop the younger talent on the line if need be.
Such an addition could make the Raiders fairly comfortable with their offensive line situation heading into the season, thus opening the door for them to spend the draft’s fifth overall pick on one of the top quarterbacks available.
4. FS Chris Clemons
With mutual interest on both sides, it is still very possible that free safety Charles Woodson returns for another season in the silver and black.
Either way, it should not prevent the Raiders from addressing the future of the position, as Woodson’s skill set could easily have the team finding a more hybrid role for him in 2014 if need be.
The best remaining free safety on the free-agent market excelling in pass coverage as a true centerfield safety, is Chris Clemons.
Like Melton, it is surprising that Clemons has yet to be signed, but his price tag could continue to come down the longer he remains available.
Adding a player with the deep safety range that Clemons has would give the Raiders plenty of flexibility on the back end, also allowing them to most often play strong safety Tyvon Branch where he excels— run support near the line of scrimmage.
Still just 28 years old, Clemons could have several productive years ahead of him and could be in the market for a long-term deal.
Whether Woodson returns in 2014 or not, this should be something that interests the Raiders, as Clemons and Branch could make for a solid safety tandem moving forward.
5. WR James Jones
The Raiders do have some young talent at the wide receiver position, but adding some experience will certainly be a priority if the right situation arises on the open market.
One such free agent the team should target, and a player that Reggie McKenzie should be very familiar with from his time in Green Bay, is James Jones.
Jones may not be a No. 1 target at the position, but he is an established possession receiver that brings plenty of experience and production.
A down year for the Packers offense as a whole in 2013 likely hurt his free-agent stock, but Jones’ 14-touchdown campaign in 2012 shows how productive he can be when put in the right situation.
Of course, the Raiders don’t have an Aaron Rodgers of their own, but Jones is the kind of reliable veteran receiver that will be valuable to any young quarterback they bring in through the draft.
As is the case with the aforementioned players, the longer Jones remains available on the open market, the more likely it is his price tag drops.
At that point, and even before, it would be no surprise to see McKenzie look to bring an experienced veteran receiver like Jones to the Raiders.