I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Oakland Raiders fans, but the 2012 campaign for the Silver and Black will be another disappointing one. I simply don't see this team breaking its nine-year postseason drought.
Part of it is the schedule, made difficult with the AFC West matching up against the AFC North and NFC South this season. That means bouts against several teams that made the playoffs last year, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
And very quietly, the Kansas City Chiefs improved as well. Along with getting back key players like Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry—all lost for the season with injuries last year—the Chiefs were quietly very busy in free agency.
They added Peyton Hillis to the running game. Ex-Raider Kevin Boss was brought in to provide the team with a solid second option at tight end. Eric Winston was signed to solidify the offensive line. Ex-Raider Stanford Routt was brought in to play corner, since they were unlikely to keep Brandon Carr.
But what did the Raiders do this offseason?
Sure, they added a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie and a new coach in Dennis Allen. But up against the salary cap, they began to shed talent.
Routt, Boss, Kamerion Wimbley, Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene and John Henderson were cut. Chaz Schilens, Rock Cartwright and Michael Bush went elsewhere in free agency.
It should be noted that the team wasn't totally silent this offseason, adding Phillip Wheeler, Mike Goodson, Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, though none of those players are especially exciting additions.
And it certainly won't help the team's cause that they are without a first-round selection—or any pick, for that matter, until they are on the clock with the 95th pick in this year's draft. In total, the Raiders only hold five picks this year.
Plus, it remains uncertain that Carson Palmer can ever return to a high level of play at the quarterback position, or that Darren McFadden can stay healthy for a full season.
No, the Raiders still have too many holes they need to fill before they can become serious contenders. Like it or not, this offseason seemed more like an effort to rebuild the structure of this team than reload the 8-8 team from last year.
The Raiders won't be a horrible team by any means this year. But a playoff run seems out of the question, at least in my opinion.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets light the lamp like Danny Briere.