A Value Proposition Player Strategy for the Oakland Raiders

Howard HopperCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

Some may question the Raiders for not making a big splash this year in the free agent sweepstakes. Others, like myself, applaud them for not mortgaging the franchise with flashy high profile free agents, or problem players cast off from other teams, such as Khalif Barnes.

With all the needs to be addressed, focusing on several solid performers who represent value to the team seems more prudent than signing a few high-priced, flashy superstars, who may or may not work out as anticipated. 

The Raiders most pressing needs have changed with the departure of Jake Grove, Gabril Wilson and Rashad Baker. I see the most pressing needs being Center, Safety, OT, WR, and an every-down DE.

One could argue that upgrades at DT and OLB are also warranted, but these are slightly lower on my list of priorities since we already have several players (bodies) on the roster in these positions.

Where to start with the rebuilding? There are still potential free agents available to consider, including hard-hitting Roy Williams, although his pass coverage skills are not a strong suit.

Tory Holt is likely to hit the market soon and would be a great target for JaMarcus. Tank Johnson seems to have cleaned up his act in Dallas and might be a force in the DL. Jeremy Newberry would also be a powerful backup center and/or possible starter. The question is, can these players be obtained without breaking the bank?

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The draft is where the Raiders can really begin adding quality players for Coach Cable. But given the large number of holes that need filling, trading down in the draft to get more quality players makes sense versus pinning our hopes on the No. 7 overall pick and four lower-round picks.

But in order to trade down one needs to find a willing partner who wants to trade up, and the trade must work for both parties.

One trade scenario that makes sense is trading our first round pick, seventh overall, for the two Eagles’ first rounders, at 21st and 28th. This could be good for both teams. Philadelphia has 11 picks this year and could get a star OT to take over for the departed Tra Thomas, or an outstanding WR such as Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin that they are sorely lacking.

With the 21st and 28th picks, the Silver and Black can get two excellent first-round players.

Even better, based on last years rookie salaries, the No. 7 pick can expect to receive a five-year, $49 million contract with $19 million guaranteed, while the 21st and 28th picks combined should only amount to five year, $24 million contracts, with about $15 million guaranteed.

Taking this one step further, the Raiders could trade the No. 21 pick to the NY Giants for their two second round picks at No. 45 and No. 60, which could work out well for both teams, especially since the Giants are a contending team with a strong roster, with fewer holes to fill.

Are these fair trades to consider? Absolutely, since they address needs on all teams, and the trade values are consistent with the NFL draft-pick value chart.

What would these trades accomplish for the Raiders? Simple, they will have gone from five picks, with a single first and second round pick, to seven picks, with one first round and three second round picks, and five of the first 71 picks in the draft.

This should allow us to fill some key roster spots with high quality players at value prices. For example, in the first three rounds (top 71 picks), the Raiders should be able to draft:

·  The No. 1 center in the draft, Alex Mack of Cal, or possibly Max Unger of Oregon;

·  A top OT such as Andre Smith (who is rapidly slipping down the draft charts), Phil Loadholt, Jamon Meridith or Troy Kopog;

·  A WR such as Kenny Britt, Hakeem Nicks or Brian Robiske;

·  A good tackling safety such as Patrick Chung or Chip Vaughn;

·  A good defensive player such as Ron Brace (DT), Robert Ayers (DE), or Clay Matthews (OLB).        

Given the many upgrades the silver and black need to make to improve the team for not only the upcoming season, but for the years to come, focusing on obtaining quality players at value prices seems to make the most sense at this point in time.

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