The first job that Tom Cable and Al Davis have to do this offseason is to take care of the free agent market, starting with players from their own roster that could potentially be lost if no new contract agreements can be reached.
It is the first job because the free agents that are signed/released/retained by Oakland will ultimately have a big impact on who we take in the draft. Below is a list of who will be out of contract in March, and what type of free agent they will be.
Things may change if the current collective bargaining agreement expires without an extension, but this s how things stand at the present time.
Richard Seymour – UFA - After giving up a 2011 first round pick for Seymour, there is no way that Al Davis will let him walk in 2010. One of two things will happen, either Seymour will sign a new contract with Oakland, or he will get the franchise tag
Davis has a good history of re signing his quality players, even recently with Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler last year. Seymour has also indicated he would be happy to stay in Oakland to help turn things around, and so the chances are high that he will come into camp with a new contract this year.
Bruce Gradkowski – RFA -With the production that Gradkowski showed whilst under center last season, the chances are high that he will be back in 2010. He should not be that expensive to sign, and has already stated his desire to stay in Oakland.
The fact that the Raiders have indicated that there will be open competition for the quarterback spot next year is also a good reason for him to return. He knows that he can win it. I believe that re signing Gradkowski is a priority, as he clearly has the backing of his team mates for the job.
Sebastian Janikowski – UFA – Seabass had an outstanding 2009, and was robbed of a Pro Bowl place by a guy who choked when it mattered most. Rumour has it that Al Davis will do whatever it takes to keep him, so we should see him in silver and black again next year.
Kirk Morrison – RFA – Though he has his detractors, Morrison is still an integral part of the Raiders defense, and has been a Raiders fan since childhood. Almost the entire linebacker crew are free agents in 2010, and some of those players will have to be retained. It is not a certainty, but I think Morrison will be one of them. I certainly hope so.
Thomas Howard – RFA – It isn’t clear why the Raiders moved Howard to the strong side at the end of last year, but it could have been part of an evaluation process as Howard has had his troubles in run defense. His future with the Raiders is uncertain at this point, and he may be the odd man out amongst the linebacking crew.
Cornell Green – UFA – As unbelievable as it might be, when Cornell Green was injured last season, the play at right tackle actually got worse. Even so, it is hard to imagine the
Raiders hanging onto the error prone Green for another year. If he is not resigned, then it is a good indication that the Raiders will look to take a tackle early in the draft.
John Alston and Ricky Brown – RFA – Both players have been productive when fit, but have had durability issues the last two years. They should be cheap to re-sign and I would expect to see them back next year as they also contribute on special teams.
Stanford Routt – RFA – Routt was victimised often as the Raiders nickel corner over the last two years, and despite his impressive athletic ability, he fails to deliver on the field. Oakland should be looking to upgrade at this position. Routt’s future is not secure with the Raiders, and if he re signs it will likely be for minimum salary.
Khalif Barnes – RFA – Barnes signed a one year contract, contributed nothing and likely will not return.
Chris Morris – RFA – Morris had his chance to earn a starting spot last year, but his extended tenure as a starter just served to highlight his limitations. If Oakland is serious about upgrading he offensive line, then Morris will not return.
Once we know how we stand with our own free agents, we can go hunting for others. The Raiders and Al Davis usually make some kind of news with free agent signings prior to the start of the season, and don’t expect this year to be any different.
*UFA – Player is free to sign with whoever he wishes
*RFA – The player’s current team have the option to match any offer made by another team, and in doing so retain the player.