Finally it happened — Marshawn Lynch is officially a Raider, at a bargain.
This is basically how free agency is going to be in the RM era — pass on the glamorous high-dollar guys, and get a solid (if sometimes underachieving) contributor and give him a contract with a bunch of incentives.
So it is that the Raiders land Niners WR Michael Crabtree, six years after passing him up for Darrius Heyward-Bey. Crabtree had a chip on his shoulder about that, and hopefully he brings that chip with him. He automatically becomes the best receiver on the team, but there’s no reason Streater, Jones, Butler, or Holmes — any one of them or all of them — can’t perform at or near Crabtree’s level.
What this does is gives the Raiders some options for the draft. Chances are they are trying to decide between DE Leonard Williams and WR Amari Cooper, though DE Dante Fowler and WR Kevin White are probably in that discussion as well. With Crabtree on the roster, Cooper would still be nice, could be an Andre Johnson-like target for Derek Carr for the next decade, but if Williams falls to #4, they’re still decently set at receiver.
Another free-agency pickup that might not excite a lot of fans, but won’t hurt, either. Getting DeMarco Murray would have been nice, but would have cost a ton of money, and possibly impeded the development of Latavius Murray. Richardson is still young and can easily regain his college chops, and be a solid complement to Murray, with an incentive-loaded contract.
As mentioned in the previous post, lots of fans are disappointed or annoyed at how the Raiders made out in free agency. As is the Reggie McKenzie way, the team took the path of getting players they felt would be reliable, solid contributors, as opposed to true game-changing players like Ndamukong Suh.
- C Rodney Hudson
- LB Malcolm Smith
- TE Lee Smith
- RB Roy Helu, Jr.
- LB Curtis Lofton
- DL Dan Williams
- DB Nate Allen
- QB Christian Ponder
- DB James Dockery
While there might some disappointment and annoyance around The Nation that we didn’t get Suh or Cobb, or any perceived “big name” free agent on the market with all that cap money to spend, I don’t think we did poorly either. Hudson was the 3rd-highest-rated center in the league last season, and while the Raiders had to make him the highest paid at his position, it’s rare for elite linemen to make it to free agency at all, especially at just 25 years of age.
Well, that’s disappointing, but not unexpected. Suh made it clear from the start that he was going to follow his wallet, and the Raiders had at least a 13.3% disadvantage to Miami in that department, since Florida has no state income tax.
Cobb re-signing with Green Bay before even visiting other teams is a little more surprising, as a handful of teams (including Oakland, of course) were jumping at the chance to throw money at him. He could have made a lot more money, guaranteed and overall, and chose to stay in the tundra. That sort of loyalty deserves some respect, but it still doesn’t get the Raiders the WR upgrade they sorely need.
Of the rest of the FA WR crop, there’s nobody really worth throwing a lot of money at. Jeremy Maclin maybe. The Jaguars’ Cecil Shorts might be worth taking a look at, but he wouldn’t be a marquee, big money signing.
And the Raiders really need at least one or two of those big-name signings, not only to show that they’re serious about making a statement and showing that they intend to compete, but also because they have so much money to spend. Remember, there’s a salary floor as well as a salary cap, and teams need to spend 90% over the four-year period, from 2013-2016.
Suh is one of those players that would make a difference wherever he happened to land, including Oakland. The good news is that the Raiders can probably get equivalent value by grabbing Terrance Knighton (Denver) and Dan Williams (Arizona), who together should cost a fraction of what Suh would have commanded.
Another position in serious need of an upgrade is middle linebacker, as Nick Roach has also been cut, and his career is probably over. Rey Maualuga would have been a great FA pickup at the mike spot, but of course the Bengals re-signed him. Brandon Spikes (Bills) or Mason Foster (Bucs) should get a look, but both of those players had injury issues last season.
Hopefully the Raiders intend to draft Amari Cooper and Melvin Gordon as their first two picks, as they would add much-needed punch to a mostly punchless offense. The addition of veterans such as Maclin at WR, and maybe C.J. Spiller to complement Latavius Murray at running back, would make a real difference, and still leave plenty of cash and draft picks to continue improving the lines.
Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement on Twitter, which is a shame, but if he felt he wasn’t going to be able to return to peak form, or get an opportunity to do so, was probably the right move for him. Additionally, LaMarr Woodley was released, as expected.
Matt Schaub is most likely the next big name to be released from the team, which would put the Raiders’ cap room at just under $70 million.