What Offseason Moves Are Next for Oakland Raiders with the Draft Complete?
After the best draft they have had in a number of years, as well as the free-agent additions made beforehand, the Oakland Raiders can look at their 2014 offseason as a success.
Having said that, plenty of time remains before the season gets underway in September, and there is still some work to be done in improving the team.
That work can include further additions to the roster, making schematic adjustments prior to the season and addressing the long-term contract situations of current players.
With the draft now complete, here are some areas of focus for the Raiders as the offseason continues.
Add to Receiving Corps
The wide receiver spot was one of very few needs the Raiders weren’t able to address during the draft, but plenty of time remains in the offseason to do so.
No, this year’s top free-agent targets at receiver are no longer available, but there will be a number of different options to address the position.
As the offseason goes on, we can expect trade markets to emerge for several established veterans, much like we saw during the draft with the now former Bills receiver, Stevie Johnson.
The Raiders could either get involved in similar trade discussions to improve the position, or remain patient and hope a team desperate for salary-cap space will later opt to release a player instead.
The true No. 1 targets around the league are unlikely to become available, but simply increasing the competition at the position is the Raiders’ more likely goal at this point anyway.
Either way, although both the draft and the main free-agency period have now passed, more options for the Raiders to improve at receiver should continue to emerge the closer we get to the regular season.
Improve Depth Throughout
While Reggie McKenzie and the rest of the Raiders staff have done an impressive job in improving the roster’s talent already this offseason, depth is something that can always be added to.
As the offseason goes on, and especially through the preseason, capable players around the league will be released from their current teams for any number of reasons.
Even if those players wouldn’t fit with the Raiders as starters, adding their talent to the mix as competition, backup options or rotational pieces can be just as beneficial.
The fact that such players are most often in line for veteran minimum deals following said preseason cuts only means increased value and thus less risk in adding them to the roster.
Although this season’s 53-man roster will be more talented than the Raiders have had in quite a few years, expect them to be in the market for at least a few established veteran free agents at final roster cut-downs to increase depth at some key positions.
Explore Contract Extensions
Despite the Raiders having a successful offseason overall, it’s safe to say they could do better in retaining some of their own young talent when it comes to free agency in future years.
Whether or not there is mutual interest in getting a deal done between a given player and team, the negotiations between them become that much more complicated as free agency approaches and other teams can get involved.
Despite such mutual interest between the Raiders and both Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer this offseason, the team didn't stand much of a chance in bringing the two back after other teams made their offers.
Getting started on that negotiation process this summer for key players like Stefen Wisniewski and Rod Streater would be in the best interest of both the team and the players.
Both could very well prove to be important pieces of this franchise’s success moving forward, and avoiding a similar situation to that of this offseason will be important for both sides.
Get Creative on Defense
Although the Raiders lacked the required personnel in most cases, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver’s exotic formations and packages were on display throughout the 2013 season.
After an offseason that has seen the unit upgrade its talent at nearly every position on the field, Tarver and his defensive staff should finally be able to tap into the full potential of that system overall.
Now, and especially so in the front seven, the Raiders have some highly versatile players that should be able to get after the quarterback from all over the field.
The improvements made on the back end should free up that pass rush even more, making the defense less conservative in fear of giving up the big play.
With the mix of established veterans brought in through free agency and the young players added in the draft, the flashes of defensive success we have seen in recent seasons could very well become more regular in 2014.