Oakland Raiders' Top Remaining Offseason Priorities
Heading into what was certain to be an important few months for the rebuilding of this franchise, the Raiders had many areas of the roster that needed to be addressed.
To this point, they have done well to do just that in a number of key spots, and there is no doubting they have improved the team’s overall talent level in a big way.
Even so, there is still work to be done in the coming months for the Raiders to be able to compete both this season and into the future.
Here are the Raiders’ top five remaining offseason priorities.
Find Quarterback of the Future
Acquiring a veteran quarterback in Matt Schaub this offseason was a big move for the Raiders. While they will likely move forward with him as the starter, that still should not prevent them from looking for their quarterback of the future in the meantime.
As Reggie McKenzie alluded to earlier this offseason, his preference is to have a young passer sit and develop until ready. Given the way Aaron Rodgers was successfully brought along during McKenzie’s time in Green Bay, his mindset makes sense.
With Schaub, assuming his 2013 struggles will remain the outlier in an otherwise consistent career, the Raiders have a solid starting option that can make the team competitive in the short term, all the while affording them the time to develop a rookie behind him.
Whether the Raiders look to draft a quarterback at fifth overall remains to be seen, and really depends on who is available when they’re on the clock.
However, with a number of other positions on the roster that could stand to add an instant-impact player, it would be no surprise to see the Raiders look elsewhere early on, then address the quarterback spot in the middle rounds.
Either way, we can expect the Raiders to select a quarterback somewhere within the first four rounds of the upcoming draft with the hope of developing him behind the established veteran they now have in Schaub.
Add to Receiving Corps
Of course, the Raiders have already made a key addition to the position group with James Jones, but their reported interest in Jackson made it clear they aren’t done there.
Again, with Jackson now off the market, few free-agent options remain, so we should see the Raiders turn to the draft instead.
Fortunately for the silver and black, this year’s class is one of the deepest for receiving talent in recent memory, and impact starters could conceivably be found throughout the first three or four rounds.
Whether the Raiders target first-rounders like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, or players like Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Brandon Coleman later on, their options are wide open.
Coming away from the draft with another addition to the receiving corps, and possibly even a day-one starter at that, will make the position group much deeper than it was shaping up to be at the beginning of this offseason, and quite possibly a strength for the Raiders' offense overall.
Continue to Upgrade Pass Rush
Heading into this offseason, addressing a non-existent pass rush was one of the top priorities for the Raiders in rebuilding their roster.
Adding veteran talents like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith, as well as re-signing Pat Sims, has gone a long way toward doing just that, but the position should continue to be an area of focus.
Further depth can be added in free agency with the remaining salary-cap space the Raiders have, and available defensive ends could fill rotational roles nicely, including the likes of Anthony Spencer, O’Brien Schofield and Will Smith.
In the draft, should either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack fall to the Raiders at fifth overall, their talent and potential impact up front would be hard to pass up. If not, like with the receivers, solid talent will be available in the middle rounds as well.
Either way, if the Raiders can add another pass-rusher to the rotation in free agency, as well as one early on in the draft, they should come away from this offseason quite satisfied with their work in addressing what was arguably the most problematic area of the roster last year.
Improve Depth Throughout Roster
While the Raiders have already done well to upgrade starting spots at a number of positions, continuing to add depth across the board will be important as this offseason goes on.
A few areas where this should be the focus include the aforementioned wide receiver and defensive line spots, but also on the offensive front and in the secondary.
Evidenced by the Raiders’ struggles after a somewhat surprising start to the 2013 season, football is a game where your starters can only get you so far.
Eventually, be it due to injuries, snap counts piling up or a combination of the two, capable roster depth throughout is imperative for a team to be successful.
In a short period of time, the front office has been able to improve said depth in some areas, but continuing to do so in free agency and having a solid draft in May will be key to the success of this offseason for the Raiders.
Get Started on Long-Term Extensions
Although adding players to the roster will continue to be the Raiders’ focus for the next few weeks and through the draft, it won’t be long before they need to begin getting some of their own key players locked up long-term.
Even though the team was confident it would be able to re-sign both Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer this offseason, it proved to be a much more difficult task when free agency opened and they were given opportunities elsewhere.
Looking ahead, both Rod Streater and Stefen Wisniewski’s contracts are set to expire following the 2014 season, and the Raiders will certainly want to avoid having the same thing happen with them.
As such, sometime after free agency and the draft, expect the Raiders to turn their attention to these two contracts.
Both Streater and Wisniewski have done well to prove their worth throughout their young careers, and it should become a priority for the Raiders to sign both to long-term deals before the 2014 season gets underway.