Oakland Raiders' Best Case Scenario Under a New CBA
Last month, I attempted an article on what I thought the Raiders could and should do in free agency. Now, I'm at it again because we know that the salary cap is set at $120 million with a $3 million exemption for one player.
Another good thing is that the "dead money" is not too likely to count toward the cap. This is because the NFL owners will have to spend at least 90 percent of the $120 million in cash toward the cap.
If "dead money" counted toward the cap, the Raiders would only be able to spend 80 percent of the cap in cash toward players after cuts. They stand at around $6 million over the cap exemption right now if with the rule in affect.
The Raiders look to be in good shape with just $103.2 million in salary toward players. Therefore, the Raiders are still capable of putting a good product on the field in 2011.
Turn the page to see what my best case scenario for the Oakland Raiders free agency is.
Cuts: Darrius Heyward-Bey
This isn't likely to happen because they give first-round picks three years to show something. I have nothing against the man, but there are four other guys at his position that are better and much cheaper.
This is at a time when we are fighting to keep the players we already have, so that's my best case scenario. After getting $21 million last year, he'll only get $2.5 this year, but that $2.5 million could go a long way.
There's too much at stake to wait for a guy that made two plays in two years to come around.
Cuts: Cooper Carlisle
Room needs to be made for the Raiders to bring back their big guns in 2011. Cooper Carlisle in an undersized guard that seem to play in the Raider backfield instead of the line because he was driven back so much.
He did his thing for the Raiders in 2007 and 2008 in the zone blocking scheme but the Raiders power block now. Carlisle was never a fit for a power blocking scheme, so he and his $2.5 million salary can go.
He should be thanked for what he did in Raider Nation, but this is the end of the line.
Cuts: Hiram Eugene
Hiram Eugene is a good special teams player but $2 million for a back up caliber safety is too much. I also can't see him as the starter for the Raiders as he is probably the third best free safety on the team.
Tyvon Branch could be moved to free safety of Stevie Brown could be moved into the starting lineup. I didn't find anything in the way of guaranteed money in his contract, so I see this as a just in case signing.
Therefore, Eugene can easily be cut.
He can easily be brought back cheaper too.
Cuts: Michael Bennett
It looks like Michael Bush's tender is going to hold up because he was on the P.U.P. list his entire rookie year. A few months ago, the Raiders drafted running back Taiwan Jones out of Eastern Michigan in the fourth round.
Jones' speed will be used more in the return game but can come in handy if Darren McFadden goes down. He is a fourth-rounder that won't cost much so Michael Bennett and his $891,000 would be my odd man out.
Why else would the Raiders sign Jones?
Trade Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is a very good corner that is due $3.2 million in 2011.
The Raiders will already have enough money invested in the cornerback position and drafted Demarcus Van Dyke. Therefore his salary should be dumped, but I beleive the Raiders can get something for him.
If I were Davis, I would get on the phone with the Baltimore Ravens to talk third rounder for Johnson. This is win, win because the Ravens would sure up their No. 21 ranked pass defense the NFL's tied for the sixth best corner in burn percentage.
At 31, Johnson would go to a older, veteran team that could be ready to win a Super Bowl righ now. The youthful Raiders can use the money to keep it's core and also look for another missing piece to the puzzle.
Sign Kamerion Wimbley Long Term
In 2011, Kamerion Wimbley proved to be the Raiders' best edge pass rusher the since Derrick Burgess. He led the Raiders in sacks in 2010 with 9.5 from his outside linebacker position, putting his hand on the ground on third down passing situation.
However, we would all have to agree that Wimbley didn't do $11 million worth of damage. So the Raiders are sure to sign Wimbley long term to something long term for less than $11 million a year.
Around $7 million a year should get that one done, saving the Raiders another $4 million. Combine that with the cuts and that leaves the Raiders' player payroll at $91.3 million.
That's enough room for the Raiders to field a good team.
Sign Zach Miller
Signing Zach Miller should be the Raiders first order of business.
They may be able to get a tight end that can take his place catching passes or even one the can stretch the field more. They may even be able to go out and get a guy that can replace what Miller does in run blocking.
But there's no one player out there that can give the Raiders what they get from Miller in both departments. This makes Miller a valuable player to the Raiders' offense and he should be paid as such.
I'm thinking it should be around $6 million a year for the 2010 Pro Bowler. This should be good enough as Vernon Davis gets $7.25 million and Antonio Gates gets $7.23 million a year.
Miller is statistically a cut below the other two in value at the tight end position.
Sign Nnamdi Asomugha
The fact that you're reading this article tells me you already know who Nnamdi Asomugha is. The Raiders bump and run with their corners nearly every play, so it makes no sense to let one of the best at it in the NFL go.
This one will be rough for the Raiders, but I don't think it will be as bad as many think. Around the league, teams tend to run a little more cover two and zones that don't depend as much as the Raiders do on man coverage.
Yes, he will have plenty of suitors but the Raiders can win this battle at about $13 million a year. He will deservedly be the second highest paid Raider behind Richard Seymour and the highest paid corner in the NFL..
He could go for more money, but $13 million should be enough if he wants to remain a Raider.
Sign Michael Huff
So now I wonder if Michael Huff will be able to fit under the exemption that stretches the cap number to the $123 million. Huff was unable to re-sign with the Raiders before the lockout because of the 30 percent rule.
So now Huff is on the market and the Raiders will have to out bid teams like the Dallas Cowboys for him. The Cowboys are already in cap trouble as it is, so the Raiders should win this battle at around $4 million
This brings the core of the Raiders back for 2011.
Bring Back Kirk Morrison
Kirk Morrison played like a beast for the Raiders in his rookie season with 116 combined tackles. He did it from the outside linebacker position which is his natural position.
He wasn't so good from the middle linebacker position which isn't a crime from a guy playing out of position. He was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars after the Raiders picked Rolando McClain in the first round in 2010.
In 2010, one of the outside linebackers was the weakness of the defense in both run stuffing and pass coverage. Morrison is excellent in pass coverage and just so happens to be a free agent in 2011.
How about bringing the Oakland naitive and already bonded Raider back?
He made $2.1 million last year, so that should be enough now.
Bring in Jared Gaither
I still believe Jared Gaither would be a tremendous asset to the Raiders' offensive line. He would turn youngster Jared Veldheer into a Pro Bowler by allowing him to be moved to the right side.
He allowed seven sacks in his first two years and won his block 89 percent of the time as the point of attack in the running game. This means the Raiders would be able to run the ball to either side of the line this year.
He could be a Pro Bowler himself, but he would at least turn a team weakness into a strength in 2011. I expect solid play from rookie center Stephen Wisniewski and guard Daniel Loper.
Bruce Campbell at the other guard will at least be an upgrade over Cooper Carlisle, and they're set.
My best case number here is $7 million, and that would bring the total number to $119.71 million.
With no first-round pick, the Raiders will easily be able to get their draft picks signed under $123 million. Asomugha will be the designated player to stretch the cap to the expemption.
I have no way of knowing what Davis and the rest of the NFL is thinking or willing to do but this is the best case scenario. This is definitely what I would try to do, but I know a lot will have to go right for that to happen.
Whatever happens, the Raiders need to focus more on keeping their own players.
They have some good ones, but keeping a team together is important post lockout.