7 Free Agents That Can Help the Raiders at a Cheap Price
The craze of the free-agent frenzy has died down in recent days, with the only big-name player still on the market being Peyton Manning.
The Raiders made their only two moves on Friday, but still have holes to fill. With few draft picks, their actions are limited. However, they still have a manageable amount of salary space that they can use to pick up some cheap players to fill those holes.
I've come up with a list of players who have a good amount of experience in the NFL, but can be had for a reasonable price.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
This one might come to a surprise to many. Tomlinson will be 33 by the time next season begins, and many are saying that he has nothing left in the tank.
I can't really blame most of those people, seeing as L.T. only had 280 rushing yards on 75 carries. But that isn't the reason why I want him. L.T. is a valuable asset in the passing game. In the 2011 season, Tomlinson caught 42 balls for 449 yards and had a huge game receiving against our beloved Raiders.
The 32-year-old with nothing left in the tank carved the Raider defense for 38 rushing yards on six carries, 116 receiving yards on five catches and a receiving touchdown.
In the Raiders offense, Tomlinson would be our third-down back. After seeing Greg Knapp run Houston's offense, we can expect him to use as many different runners as he can. McFadden and Taiwan Jones are good runners, while McFadden is a terrific catcher. However, keeping him on the field more raises his risk of getting injured. Another season where McFadden is injured is something I'm not looking forward to.
Taiwan Jones can catch, but he is not a polished blocker. Tomlinson has experience in the NFL and can block when needed.
OT Marcus McNeill
Marcus McNeill, before the injuries, was considered to be one of the top left tackles in all of football. A franchise left tackle, the Chargers rewarded him with a contract worth almost $50 million in 2010.
Not even two years have passed, and McNeill is now a free agent. He was released by the Chargers not even a week ago and has struggled to find much interest on the market. However, he is still a great player. Let's be real, the only reason he is a free agent is because of the freak injury, his enormous contract and the excellent play of Jared Gaither.
But if the Chargers stuck with their back-up left tackle at the end of the 2011 season, I have no doubt that McNeill would still be their left tackle today. But of course, that didn't happen.
For the Raiders, he could play right tackle. Despite having the elite status, McNeill is coming off of a freak injury thanks to our own Aaron Curry. He is not going to get elite money and will have to come in based on a "prove it or lose it" type deal for one season.
McKenzie has already handed out that type of contract to Ron Bartell and should do so to Jared Gaither. If he does well, then terrific. If not, we can either waive him or keep him on the bench and let Barksdale do the playing.
OLB Manny Lawson
Many Raider fans have been calling for Manny Lawson for some time now, and it's no surprise.
Manny Lawson was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers and was expected to be their pass-rushing specialist. Things did not pan out very well, and Lawson moved on to Cincinnati. Playing on a one-year deal, Lawson played well.
Lawson is a good run defender, and that's exactly what the Raiders need. With the release of Kamerion Wimbley, the Raiders have a hole at strongside linebacker. Plug in Lawson and we have a solution.
The only problem with Lawson is, of course, his pass-rushing ability. This hurts him a bit, as he has to come off the field on third downs. The Raiders will need to find a pass-rushing specialist who can come down on third downs like Aldon Smith did for the 49ers.
Lawson also played under defensive coordinator Jason Tarver in their days at San Francisco.
DT Amobi Okoye
Okoye first broke onto the scene when he was drafted at the age of 19, the youngest in NFL history. Okoye enjoyed a successful first year with the Texans, recording 5.5 sacks as a rookie. However, he fell off the map after that and found himself with the Bears for the 2011 season.
As a Bear, Okoye was a great rotational defensive tackle. He was not a starter, but a rotational player that could come in and put the heat on quarterbacks when it mattered. In his limited playing time, Okoye finished the season with four sacks.
Okoye could do the very same for the Raiders. With Seymour and Kelly entrenched as the starters, Okoye will provide much-needed depth. After Seymour and Kelly, the Raiders have Desmond Bryant, Jamie Cumbie and Travis Ivey. Bryant is the only player that had an effect off the field.
Okoye is a skilled defensive tackle who can make an impact as a rotational player. He can be a factor rushing the passer, especially on third downs. Under Seymour and Kelly, he could only improve on those abilities.
WR Plaxico Burress
Initially, I had Braylon Edwards here for his height and ability to score in the endzone. But then I compared his stats to Plaxico Burress, who spent nearly two years in prison. Burress had eight touchdowns compared to Edwards' zero.
The Raiders have a very explosive offense and can gain big chunks of yardage in a hurry, but are not as efficient in the redzone. Sure, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore are coming up big, but it helps to have a big bodied receiver like Burress.
The only big-bodied threat the Raiders had last season was Kevin Boss, and we all know he was a bust in the Silver and Black. Burress still has the desire to play, and it's worth a shot to sign him to a one-year deal as well.
RB Jackie Battle
Jackie Battle is a tough runner. He is 6'2" and almost 240 pounds.
With the departure of Michael Bush, the Raiders need someone who can be the strong runner. McFadden sure is tough, but usually relies on his agility and speed to get past defenders. Taiwan Jones would not be classified as a power back either.
The Raiders could use Marcel Reece, but from the plays I see him run, he is not great at powering through defenders. This is where Jackie Battle can come in.
Battle can be the Raiders "power" back on short down situations. The Raiders played against him twice and were able to bottle him up the second time. The first was a different story, as he ran for 76 yards on 16 carries, averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
Truth be told, I'd prefer LaDainian Tomlinson over battle, but Battle provides a strength to a speed-focused backfield.
WR/KR Ted Ginn, Jr.
Last on our list in wide receiver Ted Ginn. Jr. That wide receiver part is more of a joke, as Teddy is more an elite kick returner and pass catcher.
Like many of the Raider receivers, Ginn is very fast. But he has something most of the others don't, and that's return ability. Yes, Jacoby Ford is a great kick returner, but he is not a good punt returner.
Ford is a straight-line runner and can beat anyone once he has a clear field. He is not great at making people miss, however, and that's what you need to be able to do as a punt returner.
Denarius Moore tried to be the Raiders punt returner and ended up with an injury. That, my friends, was a blessing in disguise. For some odd reason, if you're a great punt returner, you're not a very great wide receiver. We should let Moore focus on catching passes instead of returning punts.
Ginn is one of the best at returning punts. The Raiders have been one of the worst ever since Johnnie Lee Higgins was caught in a big hit that changed his style of play.