2010 NFL Free Agency: Oakland Raiders Could Pluck Troy Smith from Ravens

Tim PetersonCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2010

BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 20:  Troy Smith #10 of the Baltimore Ravens passes during the game against the Chicago Bears at M&T Bank Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bears 31-7. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

With JaMarcus Russell an unknown factor and Bruce Gradkowski on his third NFL team in three years, the Oakland Raiders need to find its starter at the quarterback position and do it pronto!

When free agency starts this week, the Raiders could also help themselves mightily by finding a run-stuffing middle linebacker and perhaps bring in a veteran receiver to bolster the position.

And no...I don’t see Terrell Owens wearing the Silver and Black, but thanks for asking.

Here’s how things might play out as the NFL signing period begins to unfold (Thursday night at midnight EST).

The big names hitting the open market are headlined by Carolina’s Julius Peppers, San Diego’s Antonio Cromartie, and Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby.

LaDainian Tomlinson will have a limited market, and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King predicts Terrell Owens won’t find a home until after the 2010 NFL Draft.

So is Al Davis going to be in the mix, and how much is he ready to spend?

Grabbing any one of these aforementioned players would be an instant upgrade to a Raiders team that finished with double-digit losses for the seventh consecutive season.

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But considering the fact that Oakland has already spent some $30 million to retain the services of Sebastian Janikowski and Richard Seymour, it’s likely that the Raiders will be conservative during free agency.  Just call it a hunch.

The Raiders seem to be relegated to the shallow end of the free agent pool, but there’s a great chance that Oakland has already lined up possible offensive line upgrades and a few skill positions.

Targeting Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith and Derrick Mason for a ticket to Oakland might be the Raiders' best move of free agency.

Here’s how it can happen.

Since Smith is a restricted free agent, Baltimore has the option to retain his rights. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has told reporters that the team may let the former Buckeye go if it benefits the Ravens.

That means Oakland would have to make a trade to get Smith in a Raiders uniform.

Harbaugh went on to say that he believes Smith is a legitimate NFL starter, and that’s why the team wants him back in a Baltimore uniform. Makes sense, but do the Raiders have anything the Ravens would want?

Also in the discussion is 36-year-old receiver Derrick Mason.

Because of the obvious connection with former Ravens coach Hue Jackson, Mason’s name has been brought up as a possible fit in Oakland.

Mentoring the Raiders' young receivers would be Mason’s greatest asset to the team, but the veteran still has life in those legs and can still contribute. He would be a great pick-up.

Here’s why he may leave Baltimore. The Ravens want Mason back for another year, but Mason wants two.

Mason went into detail about returning in 2010 with BaltimoreRavens.com: "My thought pattern is that if there's no need to come back for one year, then there's no need to come back.

"It has to be for more than one year. I'm not just going to come back for one year and let it be at that. If I came back, it would be for more than one year."

The biggest implosion of the offseason is quietly taking shape in the Arizona desert.

With the retirement of Kurt Warner and the impending departure of linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antrel Rolle, the suddenly depleted Cards are in flux.

Adding even more drama to the situation is the possible exit of the play-maker Anquan Boldin.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Cardinals General Manager Rod Graves told the Florida Sun-Sentinel that he is "receptive to taking any calls" regarding a potential trade for Boldin.

And that’s why the Niners are the odds on favorites to win the NFC West in 2010.

Even though Dansby is a fan favorite in Arizona, he’s expected to make $30 million in guaranteed money through free agency. No doubt Dansby will follow the money train.

He averaged 121 tackles over his last two seasons and would be an excellent replacement for Joey Porter in Miami, which just happens to be a team of his liking.

The former Auburn Tiger narrowed his choices down to five potential suitors on Sirius Radio (Giants, Redskins, Chargers, Arizona, and Miami).  According to a league source, the Dolphins are considered to be the front-runner.  

The Raiders almost certainly will be in the market for a linebacker this offseason. Both Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison are expected to given average tenders, but most likely only one will return.  

Dansby’s asking price is way too expensive, which should force Davis to grab a linebacker in the draft.  Utah’s Koa Misi would be a great fit in Oakland.

As for Rolle, he would be an interesting addition to the Oakland secondary, but only if the Raiders are willing to pay a handsome price for his services.

The former Miami Hurricane has 12 career picks in six seasons in Arizona, and Rolle will be looking for Bob Sanders type money ($37 million over five years).

Potentially, Rolle could make a big impact on the Raiders good-but-not-great secondary.  

Michael Huff has been very inconsistent at safety, even though he’s is coming off his best season as a pro with 52 tackles and three interceptions. Rolle has that “it” factor that Davis loves and can play both the safety and cornerback positions.

He has the swagger and confidence the Raiders are craving, and he’s also showed great durability by playing in every game but one over his last four seasons in Arizona.