The Oakland Raiders are not very far off from having a playoff caliber team. The priorities for the Raiders this offseason should be a mix of keeping the players that turned around the 7-year Raider funk and attaining a couple of missing pieces.
Then there's the budget, or salary cap, whatever it may be.
This is my attempt to make the Raiders priorities and needs make financial sense for the Raiders. The Oakland Raiders' payroll is not as bad as one might think so there is still much that can be done.
Turn the page to see all the madness.
Michael Bush is a very important man in Raider Nation.
Darren McFadden has emerged as the leading rusher out of the Raider backfield. But Bush is still important because he has been money in short yardage situations particularly close to the goal line.
He was also big when McFadden was out with a hamstring pull as he kept the Raiders running game going. That was a big part of why the Raiders were able to climb up to No. 2 in the NFL in rushing for 2010.
If it isn't broke, don't fix it!
Bring him back!
In 2010, Michael Huff got just his second opportunity in six years to play his natural position of free safety. He showed signs of getting it as he had four sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
He also straightened up and flew right in the way of his tackling in the last portion of the season. With the improvement, his tackling totals ended up at 94 for the 2010 season.
The Raider pass defense was ranked No. 2 in the NFL with Huff on patrol duties. Word out of Raider Nation is that owner Al Davis would have already made him an offer if it weren't for the 30 percent rule.
The Raider pass defense is another thing not to fix.
Get him done!
I highly recommend signing Marc Bulger to Al Davis and his Raiders, with Boller behind him as the third-string quarterback. Sure you want a man that can come in and get it done when the starter isn't playing well or is injured, but that's not all a backup should be expected to do.
Raider starting quarterback Jason Campbell needs another set of eyes besides his coach to help him sort things out at times. Bulger would also serve as a calming influence in times of frustration for Campbell.
Many in Raider Nation want a young quarterback to groom for the future.
But an experienced veteran, if not Bulger, would be best as this young team needs veterans.
The Raiders need an outside linebacker that can play the run and cover.
I recommend Kirk Morrison for the job because that is his natural position and he played well for the Raiders at that position as a rookie. He had 91 tackles as a rookie outside linebacker and has had a four interception season during his career.
The Oakland native is what the doctor ordered.
If not him, someone.
When was the last time the Raiders had a great left tackle?
What about a solid one?
Okay, never mind.
With head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders bringing in the vertical offense, the Raider need really good pass protection. At first I wanted Baltimore Raven tackle Jared Gaither but I've since shifted gears.
Gaither may or may not become a free agent in 2011 but there seems to be another veteran left tackle ready to become one. Matt Light is the guy that could be the perfect stop-gap to get the Raiders to their 2012 first round pick, where the could draft a left tackle for the long-term.
If not Light, the Raiders need a veteran left tackle to bring this young line together.
Light could very well have the same affect as Richard Seymour, but on the offensive line.
Stanford Routt has come on as a great corner in 2010.
But you don't just allow the best corner in the game to leave the Nation for nothing at all. Sure, corners don't turn franchises around but when the team has other tools, great corners put you over the top.
The Raiders are starting to have those other tools.
The Raiders' philosophy has always been power running and the deep ball behind it on offense. Defensively, it's all about having a dominant front four with corners that can cover for as long as a play lasts.
The offensive and defensive philosophies coincide as you get big plays on offense and try not to allow them on defense. Well, the Raiders have their running backs, a big-armed quarterback and speedy receivers on offense.
They have their dominant defensive line and a great corner on defense.
Bring back the best corner in the game and the team is in place to live by the philosophy!
The tight end has been a very important part of the Raiders' offense throughout the years. Like two great corners, the Raiders have also had a great tight end on two of their three Super Bowl wins.
Todd Christensen and Dave Casper were important parts of their team's success and Miller will be similar. Miller blocks well in the Raiders' vaunted running game and he's the possession receiver to got with the track star wide outs.
The red zone is usually Miller time as well
So you don't think there's any way the Raiders can get these things done under whatever the cap may be?
I didn't either, until I did some poking around.
Last year, the Raiders' player payroll was around $152 million.
There were other teams between $140 and $150 million so I don't see the cap being too much lower because those are legal contracts. Too many rosters would have to be cut in half to make other players' salaries fit under the cap.
Lets start with $3 million Jamarcus Russell made for nothing as well as 2$ million Javon Walker made. That's $5 million in salary that won't have to count against the Raiders in 2011.
Then there's the $21 million Darrius Heyward-Bey made that will shrink to $3 million in 2011. Yes, an article on S.I.com by Jonah Freedman had Heyward-Bey making that huge some of money for 2010.
Robert Gallery is walking away from the Raiders but his $6 million will stay with the team for 2011. Huff's rookie contract that got him $5 million in 2010 has run out as well as Cooper Carlisle's $2.5 million.
Also, cornerback Chris Johnson's salary will be cut down to $3 million in 2011 from $6 million in 2010. Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski made $1.7 million a that also be off the Raiders' books.
All this tallies up to $42.9 million.
Stanford Routt made $3 million in 2010 and will bump up $7million to $10 million in 2011. Richard Seymour's $15 million dollar salary in 2011 will only be up $3 million to $18 million from his 2010 salary.
Daniel Loper will make double the $1 million he made in 2010 but it's only plus one. Wimbley is the big jackpot hitter for the Raiders as his salary bumps up $9 million to $10 million for 2011.
If Asomugha makes the same $14 million he made last year, the Raiders are still $20 million under what they paid out in 2010. Matt Light made $4.5 million while Kirk Morrison made $2.5 million for 2010 and shouldn't cost more than that in 2011.
I believe Light will take $3 million and Morrison will take $2 million because they are coming off of down years. Then you have Bush and Miller at plus $2.5 million a piece because of their tenders
That brings the Raiders' player payroll to $140 million.
That has to be at least close to whatever the cap number will be!
I'll shout it from the roof tops.
THE RAIDERS ARE CLOSE!
The Oakland Raiders will soon be contenders!
I now see that there is still enough money to go around despite all the big spending Al Davis has done. Hopefully, Davis takes care of all the aforementioned priorities so the Raiders can go ahead and contend.
Raider Nation is waiting.