Just as much fun as the draft and for some reason not nearly as prone to rampant speculation, the NFL's free agency period is now under three weeks away.
Last year's bonanza resulted in some 300-plus new contracts and was, in the words of one agent, "almost like being recruited again."
Though it all figures to be bit less hectic this time around—the New England Patriots probably won't be fishing with dynamite like they did last year—free agency 2008 should be a fun one.
RealFootball365.com offers some assistance to the Oakland Raiders with a little advice vis-à-vis re-signings. In reverse order (rated from No. 6 to No. 1), Al Davis, Lane Kiffin, & Co. (assuming they'll all manage to see eye to eye someday) should want the following fellows to stay with the Raiders...
6. Daunte Culpepper
Nearly as much a no-brainer as No. 1 (hint: it's Nnamdi Asomugha), Culpepper is the easy choice here. To offer a prediction along with this judgment call, I foresee a thousand bloggers from within the Raider Nation posting on the subject of Culpepper, all proclaiming they knew when he first signed with Oakland that he was a couple years past done.
5. Tommy Kelly
Is there any player on the roster more frustrating than Kelly? After demonstrating real potential at Mississippi State, he went undrafted in 2003. But Kelly showed smarts and adaptability in playing multiple positions in 3-4 and 4-3 sets.
When Art Shell had him at nose tackle in 2006, Kelly fared poorly. Then in 2007 Kelly appeared to have finally emerged as the star Oakland fans once had glimpsed. But this was followed by a trip to the IR with a torn ligament after Week Eight.
Will 2008 be the year? Is Kelly worth the gamble of a multiyear contract? An intriguing situation here, to be sure...
4. Josh McCown
What's the price of a backup quarterback? The Raider brain trust is about to find out. Though hardly an enviable necessity, McCown at least has savvy enough to be worth re-upping on a weak market.
3. Chris Carr
The franchise's all-time-leading kickoff returner saw less time on special teams, was taken off punt returning almost entirely, and spent quality time on defense.
And you know what? He's getting better.
Scary stuff from a guy out of Northern Nevada University who went undrafted. Re-sign this restricted free agent to a multi-year deal.
2. Justin Fargas
All right, we all know conventional wisdom would have Davis releasing Fargas into the wild, letting the Raiders set their sights on Darren McFadden. What is vaguely incomprehensible, as with most Davis matters these days, is the urgency to shift gears at the position.
USC alum Fargas had a fantastic season in 2007, making a few fantasy owners' years while topping 1,000 yards and earning a 4.0 yards per carry average despite five early season games in which he had only single-digit carries.
This guy can block like a fullback and shows that inestimable toughness that screams “RAIDER."
Even worse than these publicly reckoned moves are the rumors that Davis is willing to trade up to No. 1 to assure the drafting of Fargas' replacement. Surely this is unnecessary trigger-pulling as the three to five teams drafting ahead of Oakland would appear to be most interested in defense and/or Matt Ryan. Why show your hand like that, Al?
Sure, it may be that McFadden is the best offensive player available by the time the Raiders step up to the mike, but Oakland could save money and go with an established presence at halfback.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha
A no-brainer. Potentially the single most desirable free agent out there, everyone is convinced that the Raiders will slap the franchise tag on Asomugha.
This looks to be the safest and best move for Oakland, so why are the Raiders waiting...?
Must be an Al Davis thing.
Ranking 'em all throughout the year at RealFootball365.com.