The salary cap has shrunk to $120 million with a $3 million exemption in 2011 from $128 million in 2009. After writing an article yesterday on what I would do under the best case scenario, today's article is on the worst case scenario.
The Raiders have a few players that have hit the market and will command a hefty salary. Now that the NFL owners have to spend at least 90 percent of the cap in cash on players, cheap owners will come out of nowhere.
Everyone's free agents are subject to be taken from them, and the Raiders have three players that are among the best in the NFL at their positions.
Turn the page to see what the Raiders may do under the worst case scenario.
There's nothing like the best corner in the game to complete an already great team. Nnamdi Asomugha has already made a ton of money, so a Super Bowl ring is what is on his mind the most these days.
Does he truly believe in the Raiders going forward?
That is what's going to be tested the most when free agency finally comes this offseason. There are some contenders out there that just may be willing to shell out enough cash to pluck Asomugha from the Bay Area.
Michael Huff could follow Asomugha down to Tampa Bay in free agency this year. He may not be a Troy Polomalu, Ed Reed type but he was an A.P. second team All-Pro, and his agent knows that.
Therefore, that agent is looking to cash in for his client and Tampa Bay will still have enough.
They are so far under the cap, they need to spend the money to get to 90 percent of the cap. They are a great secondary away from major title contention too. The Raiders could choose to roll with Hiram Eugene, who is just a $2.5 million a year deal from the Raiders.
That's half of the NFL's No. 2 ranked pass defense.
After losing Asomugha and Huff, Davis could be determined to not lose anymore players and panic. Zach Miller isn't the greatest tight end, but he is the latest great tight end to hit the market.
This means that a team looking for a tight end could always look to sign Miller in the neighborhood of Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. It could be a pretty good football team too, forcing Davis to panic and give Miller something like $8.5 million.
The Raiders will look to sign Wimbley long term for a more sensible salary number. He was already going to play for $3.5 million on buy-back exercised by the Raiders, but the 30 percent rule foiled that.
The Raiders were then forced to franchise tag him before the lockout, preventing him from negotiating with other teams. Now that Wimbley sees that he can get $11 million this year, he may not take anything too far below that in a long term deal.
Give a mile, want 10 more; you know how that goes.
The Raiders' cap number is now $111.7 million, and they've lost half of their secondary. But maybe the impact of that won't be so big if Chris Johnson becomes a solid No. 2 corner with an emerging Stanford Routt.
Johnson would have been No. 6 in burn percentage had he qualified with 50 attempts instead the 42 he had. He can follow his man from the receiver position to the concession stand, but needs to play the ball a little better.
Perhaps new defensive backs coach Rod Woodson could be of some assistance.
Third round pick Demarcus Van Dyke is lurking too.
Free safety may be the better for speedster Tyvon Branch.
He made a good amount of tackles in his first couple of years but missed a lot in 2010. He was also goodness awful in coverage, with a burn percentage of over 70 percent and eight touchdowns surrendered.
Taking Branch out of the box in the running game and out of man coverage may be beneficial. He could then use that 4.31 40-yard speed to roam the field and make some plays on the ball.
He's not as big a hitter as Mike Mitchell but a bigger hitter than Huff.
With Branch now at free safety, Mike Mitchell will finally get his chance to play strong safety. At 6'1", 220 pounds, Mitchell is a much better fit for the box than the 6'0", 205 pound Branch.
He also showed himself to be better in coverage, which wasn't supposed to be the case in 2010. With Branch and Mitchell at the safeties, the Raiders can go to a much more violent brand of football on defense.
They'll be better against the run, too.
Remember, the Raiders' cap number is at $111.7.
The Raiders lost half of their No. 2 ranked pass defense but still may not be too bad. The best thing the Raiders could do now is improve their No. 29 ranked defense against the run.
Kirk Morrison is the best candidate for that, as he was an excellent outside linebacker his rookie year. Not only is he a good tackler, but he can cover, and the Raiders need those two things in one man form that position.
With an emerging Rolando McClain and Wimbley, Morrison could make this a real NFL linebacker corps. About $3 million should do it to take Morrison back from Jacksonville under the worst case scenario.
The fact that he can be a backup middle linebacker makes this move a must.
Jared Gaither ends up with a contract he can't turn down, and it's not with the Raiders. The players lose the battle over players being franchised more than once, and Logan Mankins has to stay in New England.
Doug Free goes back to Dallas, and Willie Colon ends up going back to Pittsburgh. The free agent offensive line class dries up with, so they re-sign Khalif Barnes, Langston Walker, Mario Henderson and Samson Satele.
Those are the same guys from last year!
Jared Veldheer will have to improve dramatically, and Bruce Campbell just might get a chance to compete at left tackle. While the winner goes to the right side, Walker kicks inside to right guard with Loper at left guard and rookie Stefen Wisniewski at center.
Maybe Barnes gets a fair shot at left tackle.
Walker and Barnes will get around $1.5 million a piece with Henderson getting $700 thousand.
That leaves the Raiders at $118.4 million.
The draft picks and other loose end free agents will have the Raiders just under the cap. This is not the outcome I wish for, as yesterday's article was, but they can make the best of losing who they lost.
The Raiders can still put a good product on the field in 2011.
If they can stop the run, they can make the playoffs.
They have some weapons at the receiver position that are ready to break out in 2011. The running game broke out in 2010, so the left tackle position will push the Raiders even further if it improves.
Best case scenario is always better, but the Raiders can still improve in the worst case scenario.