Raiders address depth issues

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
7:55
PM ET
The Oakland Raiders have joined the free-agent pickup party.

After cutting seven players in salary-cap dumps, Oakland added former St. Louis cornerback Ronald Bartell and former Houston guard Mike Brisiel on Friday.

Let’s be frank. These signings aren’t going to cause a wave of worry in the NFL as neither is an upper-echelon player. But they fill holes in Oakland and that’s important.

Bartell missed all but one game last year with a neck injury. He has started 66 career games. He will start for Oakland, which entered the day with no experienced starters at cornerback. The Raiders have also shown interest in New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter, who played for new Oakland coach Dennis Allen when Allen was the Saints’ secondary coach.

I could see the Raiders trying to sign Porter to pair with Bartell. The Raiders, who have lost veterans Nnamdi Asomugha, Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson since last July, are rail thin at the position.

If Porter isn’t signed, Oakland could switch safety Michael Huff to cornerback, but the Raiders would have to come up with a replacement for Huff. Second-year cornerbacks DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chewka will also get the chance to develop.

Brisiel will start at guard. Former Houston offensive line coach Frank Pollack was hired for the same job in Oakland this year and the Raiders are going to employ a zone-blocking scheme, which Houston ran. Brisiel is known as a tough, smart player, but he has had injury issues. Oakland could still potentially add to the offensive line at guard or center. Second-year guard Stefen Wisniewski could be moved to center.

The Raiders have several holes, because of their salary-cap moves, so expect more signings. Because the Raiders have limited cap space, expect the next moves to be of the modest variety like Friday's signings. But if the Raiders can continue to find experienced starters, they will be better off for it.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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