The 2010 off-season has officially begun. Teams have the ability to use the franchise and transition tags on players while they try to re-sign others. The franchise tag period started on February 8th and ends on February 22nd. With less than 2 weeks left to use the franchise tag, and prevent star players from going into free-agency, teams will be frantically trying to re-sign stars before the 22nd, if agreements aren't reached, they must make a decision on the tag. I am wondering, what will the Oakland Raiders do this off-season?
There are a few ways to try to re-build a team: trades, the draft and free agents. So, what will Al Davis do in 2010? I have been searching for a pattern from recent off-seasons but there is none. I will discuss how all the techniques I listed above have made there marks on the Raiders in recent years.
1. Trades: Al Davis loves to make headlines with blockbuster deals. In 2005, he traded for WR Randy Moss. In 2008, Al Davis acquired DeAngelo Hall from the Falcons. Davis also gave Hall a 7 year, $70M contract. Then in 2009, the Raiders got Richard Seymour for a 2011 1st-round draft pick from the Patriots. These trades all have 2 things in common: hype and failure! Randy Moss bummed his way through Oakland with 102 catches for 1,508 yards and 11TDs in 2 seasons, he had these kind of numbers in single seasons with New England. Then there was DeAngelo Hall, he made Eddie Royal famous by allowing Royal to catch 9 passes for 146 yards and 1 TD on the seaon opener of 2008. Hall had 3 INTs with 13 passes broken up, which isn't too bad, but his mid-season release after 8 games makes him a huge waste of the Round 2 and 5 draft picks the Raiders gave up. Then Richard Seymour only mustered 4 sacks, after we traded a 2011 Round 1 pick for him. The Raiders don't have much trade bait, I believe that the Asomugha trade talks are just rumors by bored bloggers. Why would we re-sign Asomugha with the 3 years, $48M deal he got and then trade him a year later? The Raider could give up the #8 pick for someone like...Brandon Marshall. Would he be the next Randy Moss-Javon Walker to come through Oakland? Or would he become the best WR acquired since Jerry Rice in 2001? Let's see how Al Davis plays his cards in the trade market.
2. Draft Picks: This method has helped Oakland the most. Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens, Tyvon Branch, Michael Bush, Namdi Asomugha, Kirk Morrison, Thomas Howard, Zach Miller, Trevor Scott,etc... While some draft picks have been below expectations so far (Heyward-Bey, JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, Michael Huff) the Raider have found several hidden gems in the later rounds. The Raiders go into the 2010 draft with the #8 pick. I am almost more anxious to see who the Raiders draft in the middle/late rounds with the lack of success the top picks have had since Oakland drafted Asomugha in 2003. With the way draft picks have helped the Raiders lately; expect more rookies to come in and make names for themselves in the next few years.
3. Free Agents: The Raiders are very unpredictable when it comes to free agency. In 2008, there was a huge spending spree by Al Davis--Javon Walker, Gibril Wilson, DeAngelo Hall-- and it got Oakland from 4-12 in 2007 to 5-11 in 2008. Then in 2009, Oakland only handed big contracts to their own stars: Namdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler both got record-high contracts for their positions. They didn't even re-sign Richard Seymour when they traded for him. The free agents paid off this time; Greg Ellis tied for the team lead in sacks (7). I don't know how confident Al Davis is in free agents after the 2008 disaster, but his trust could be coming back with the production of Greg Ellis and an uncapped year.