NFL Nation: Vance Walker

Free-agency review: Chiefs

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
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Walker
Most significant signing: Defensive end Vance Walker will fill the starting spot that was left when Tyson Jackson departed for the Atlanta Falcons. Walker will be expected to be a strong run defender, as Jackson was last season. The Chiefs are also hopeful Walker can provide more punch as a pass-rusher than Jackson did. Walker had three sacks for the Oakland Raiders last season, his first in the NFL as a full-time starter.

Most significant loss: Dexter McCluster developed into one of the NFL's top threats as a punt returner last season. He had a pair of touchdowns, including one against the New York Giants that has to be seen to be believed. The Chiefs will find that kind of ability difficult to replace. McCluster had less of an impact on offense as the slot receiver but was still third on the Chiefs with 53 receptions.

Sanders
Biggest surprise: Emmanuel Sanders would have gone a long way toward solving the Chiefs' shortcomings at wide receiver. They lacked a consistent threat at the position last year. They could have used him in a variety of receiving roles, including as a slot receiver. The Chiefs believed they had an agreement with Sanders on a contract, but he didn't sign. Making matters worse, the Chiefs lost Sanders to their division rival, the Denver Broncos, and will have to play against him twice next season.

What’s next? Including the signings of Walker, linebacker Joe Mays and offensive lineman Jeffrey Linkenbach, the Chiefs have taken care of their most obvious needs. The major exception is wide receiver. The passing game won't work consistently next season without an upgrade at the position. If there's a receiver the Chiefs like who's available when they make the 23rd pick of the draft, it would be a mistake for them to pass on him.
The start of the free-agent signing period wasn't kind to the Kansas City Chiefs as they lost five players who were regulars at one point of the season or another last year.

Walker
Since, they've rebounded nicely. Their latest addition, defensive lineman Vance Walker, is a solid one. The Chiefs signed Walker to a three-year contract worth a maximum of $13.75 million. He is guaranteed at least $3.75 million.

Walker was about to be in demand. He had visits set up with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers had he left his interview in Kansas City without a Chiefs contract.

He got one and will fill one of the last remaining holes on Kansas City's defense. The Chiefs were searching for a replacement for starting end Tyson Jackson, who was one of those five free agents who signed at the opening of the signing period. He joined the Atlanta Falcons.

The Chiefs previously signed a linebacker, Joe Mays, to fill a hole in their starting lineup at one of the inside spots. They have yet to sign a free agent to replace free safety Kendrick Lewis, a free agent. But the Chiefs drafted Sanders Commings last year and may give him first shot at the job.

Otherwise, the Chiefs are now whole on defense. It's their offense that needs attention and that's most likely where they will focus much if not all of their attention in what remains in free agency and the early portion of the draft.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – If he gets out of Kansas City without signing with the Chiefs, free-agent defensive tackle Vance Walker will visit the Green Bay Packers.

His agent, Tommy Sims, said on Thursday a visit with the Packers has been set up but an exact date has not yet been finalized. That could depend on what happens during Walker's visit with the Chiefs on Thursday.

Walker, 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds, played for the Oakland Raiders last season under a one-year, $2 million contract.

He appeared in 15 games and posted 40 tackles with three sacks. Originally a seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Walker played his first four seasons for the Atlanta Falcons. He played 10 games as a rookie and then appeared in all 16 games each of his next three seasons.

The Packers' entire starting defensive line -- Johnny Jolly, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji -- became free agents on Tuesday. None have been signed.

Walker, 26, would be the second player known to have visited the Packers since free agency began on Tuesday. They had former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels in on Wednesday.

Other than re-signing three of their own free agents – cornerback Sam Shields, outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal and tight end Andrew Quarless – the Packers have not signed anyone in free agency.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Vance Walker practiced Friday for the first time since suffering a concussion at the New York Jets on Dec. 8 and is listed as being questionable to play Sunday at the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s close,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Walker, who has started a career-high 13 games after starting a combined 11 in his first four NFL seasons.

Walker
“He’s still got another (concussion protocol) step that he’s got to go through, so we’ll evaluate him tomorrow. He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Also, running back Darren McFadden practiced in a full capacity after being limited the previous two days, increasing the likelihood he will play for the first time since Thanksgiving Day. He was listed as probable.

And in a minor roster move, the Raiders put rookie linebacker Sam Montgomery, who was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday, on the team’s practice squad injured reserve list with a knee issue.

“He got hurt the first day of practice,” Allen said.

“He’s a talented player, and we wanted to get him in here and take a look at him to see if he’s somebody that we could work into the future. Obviously, he had the injury, so we weren’t able to get very much of an evaluation on him.”

Following, then, is the Raiders’ status report for Sunday:

Out: RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee)

Questionable: LB Miles Burris (ankle), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Probable: TE Jeron Mastrud (wrist), Darren McFadden (knee/ankle), G Lucas Nix (illness), FS Charles Woodson (ribs), LB Sio Moore (illness)

McFadden practicing again for Raiders

December, 19, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- There did not appear to be any setbacks to running back Darren McFadden's comeback attempt, as he practiced for the second day in a row Thursday for the Oakland Raiders.

McFadden
McFadden, who has missed the Raiders' last two games with knee and ankle issues, has also missed five of the Raiders' past six games and 19 of 39.

He said Wednesday he was aiming to play in the Raiders' final two games, Sunday at the San Diego Chargers and Dec. 29 at home against the Denver Broncos.

"It feels great being able to be back out there," McFadden said Wednesday. "It's one of those things, two games left, I want to just go out here and finish strong, go out here and fight with my teammates."

In eight games, McFadden has rushed for 365 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries. His 3.5 yards per carry average is just ahead of last season's career low of 3.3 yards per carry.

Also, free safety Charles Woodson (ribs) and linebacker Miles Burris (ankle) were practicing a day after sitting out.

Defensive lineman Vance Walker (concussion) and running back Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee) were working out on a side field with a trainer, though, alongside rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden, who is on injured reserve with a groin injury.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Darren McFadden knows he has two games remaining on his contract and, potentially, in his career with the Oakland Raiders. Which is why his practicing Wednesday for the first time since injuring an ankle at the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day was so important to him.

McFadden
He is hoping for one last showcase.

“I would love to,” he said. “That’s one of my things, finishing hard. I know once I’m out there playing hard, I know what I can do. So I don’t let the other things creep into my mind.”

And yes, McFadden, who has missed five of the Raiders’ past six games and 19 of 39, wants to return to Oakland next season.

“I would love to be a Raider next year but like I said, I can only focus on the things that I can control,” he said. “I have to let everybody else handle that.”

First things first because McFadden, who practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, has to actually get into Sunday’s game at the San Diego Chargers.

“Yeah, that’s the direction that we’re looking at right now,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “So we’ll see how he practices this week.”

Then where would McFadden fit into the rotation at running back, along with Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reece?

“Rashad Jennings would be our starting running back,” Allen said, “and both those other guys would work in there.”

McFadden said he was fine with that plan. He just wants to play. Even in a lost season.

“I feel that way, but at the same time there’s nothing I can do about that,” he said. “That time is gone. I can only move forward and deal with the things I have in front of me.”

The following is the Raiders injury report for Wednesday:

Did not participate: LB Miles Burris (ankle), FS Charles Woodson (ribs), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: RB Darren McFadden (ankle)
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oft-injured running back Darren McFadden, who has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle and four of the previous eight with a strained hamstring, was practicing for the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.

McFadden
McFadden could give the offense a lift as the Raiders (4-10) prepare for their final two games of the season, beginning this weekend at the San Diego Chargers (7-7).

Still, McFadden has missed 19 of Oakland’s previous 39 games, 29 games in his six-year career and has never played in more than 13 games because of toe, knee, hamstring, toe, foot, ankle, hamstring and ankle injuries.

He has a salary-cap number of more than $9.6 million this season and is making more than $5.8 million. He will be an unrestricted free agent.

McFadden, who has appeared in eight games, has rushed for 365 yards with a 3.5 yards-per-carry average, just ahead of last year’s career-low 3.3-yard average.

There was no sign, though, of concussed defensive lineman Vance Walker, who missed Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also, the Raiders signed three players to their practice squad: cornerback Johnny Adams, safety Kyle McCarthy and defensive end Sam Montgomery.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Receiver Denarius Moore went through his second consecutive practice after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury and would seem to be on track to playing Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Moore
"He had another good day today," coach Dennis Allen said. "Obviously, I'm not ready to make the decision yet, but it's moving in a positive direction."

If Moore, who has 37 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns, is active against the Chiefs, it presents a challenge for the Raiders. Andre Holmes has excelled in Moore's absence, and Rod Streater, with 50 receptions, is just 213 yards away from becoming the first Raiders receiver with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Randy Moss in 2005.

A likely scenario would have Moore and Holmes on the outside with Streater sliding into the slot.

"It's another element that we have, another weapon that we have that we feel like we can utilize," Allen said. "The more guys you have like that, the better you're going to be. It gives us a boost.

"There's only so many guys that can be on the field at the same time so, obviously, if you add another guy into the mix somebody's going to lose a few reps here or there. All those guys are guys that we can still plan on using and plan on having in the game plan a significant amount."

There were no changes to the Raiders' injury report Thursday as defensive tackle Vance Walker was still exhibiting concussion symptoms, so he is unlikely to play Sunday.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RB Darren McFadden (ankle), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), TE Nick Kasa (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), LB Sio Moore (neck)

Full practice: LG Khalif Barnes (knee/ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (knee), DE Jason Hunter (foot/finger), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), RT Tony Pashos (foot)

Midseason Report: Oakland Raiders

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders and, before Sunday's embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland was playing above expectations. Indeed, after a 4-12 season last year, the Raiders had a chance to win their fourth game at this year's midway points.

Alas, the Eagles and Nick Foles, who threw a record-tying seven touchdowns, had different plans and it makes you wonder if these are indeed the same old Raiders who have not been to the playoffs since 2002, let alone had a winning season since that Super Bowl campaign. The difference, at least on the surface, is this team has been in every game save two -- at Denver and against the Eagles.

But the NFL is a results-oriented business and at the midway point, the Raiders sit at 3-5.

 
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What are the three key camp issues facing each AFC West team?

DENVER BRONCOS

Offense: The Wes Welker Factor
Peyton Manning has a new toy. But with the wealth of options in this offense, it seems unlikely Welker will match his production from his days with Tom Brady. Manning will love exploiting the mismatches Welker creates from the slot. Welker’s experience in New England's up-tempo offense should pay off as Denver transitions to a similar pace. It is difficult to find weaknesses in the Broncos’ offense right now.

Defense: Pass-rush issue
Elvis Dumervil is now playing for Baltimore. Von Miller is one of the league’s premier defensive players and pass-rushers, but more is needed. Where will it come from? Derek Wolfe showed some flashes as an inside pass-rusher during his rookie season and on passing downs. Robert Ayers should also be effective when moved inside. Will the edge player opposite Miller -- Ayers on early downs and Shaun Phillips, most likely, on passing downs -- be able to produce? The wild card here is rookie Quanterus Smith.

Wild card: Pass coverage in the middle
Denver had a lot of problems last season covering opposing tight ends in the middle of the field. On paper, it doesn’t look as though the problem has been addressed. Denver’s safety play is average at best, but the middle linebacker spot manned by Joe Mays is the real issue. Look for opposing offenses to keep Denver in base defensive personnel and attack the middle of the field.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Offense: The Alex Smith Factor
Smith needs plenty of resources to be successful. But if he just makes fewer mistakes at the position than Matt Cassel did a year ago -- something that seems highly likely -- then Kansas City will be much more competitive. Smith also has underrated running skills, and the Chiefs should orchestrate plenty of designed quarterback movement and runs.

Defense: Interior pass rush
The Chiefs were among the worst defenses in the NFL last season at creating pressure on the quarterback between the tackles. Although the team made drastic changes across the roster, this area was not addressed. Unless Dontari Poe steps up in his second season -- and pass rush isn’t really his game -- little should change for Kansas City.

Wild card: Secondary receivers
The Chiefs are very light at wide receiver outside of Dwayne Bowe. They have three strong tight ends and could employ plenty of multiple tight end sets. Jamaal Charles should see plenty of passes thrown his way, but another outside threat needs to step up. Donnie Avery has the speed to open up room for others, but his hands are highly inconsistent. Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster have yet to find their place in this league. Keep an eye on Devon Wylie.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Offense: Man-blocking scheme
For some unknown reason, the Raiders switched in 2012 from a predominantly man-blocking scheme, in which Darren McFadden thrived, to a zone-blocking scheme. That was a failed experiment, especially for McFadden, who is entering the final year of his contract. Switching back could allow him to be the foundation of Oakland’s offense.

Defense: No pass rush
I fear the Raiders will be among the worst defenses in the NFL next season at rushing the passer. Lamarr Houston is a very talented player, capable of greatness, but he isn’t a typical edge pass-rushing defensive end. Andre Carter has had success in this area, but his best days are behind him. I like the additions of Pat Sims and Vance Walker at defensive tackle, but both are run-stuffers. Opposing quarterbacks are going to have a lot of unobstructed time in the pocket this season. Calling Jadeveon Clowney...

Wild card: Building blocks
The Raiders are not going to win the Super Bowl. Instead, they must determine which players are their building blocks. I was impressed by the way the front office, despite many limitations, addressed the team's needs during the offseason. But many of their signings were only one-year deals. Which players do they want to bring back? Many players on Oakland’s roster are auditioning this season.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Offense: Pass protection
Philip Rivers needs to be protected, which San Diego hasn’t been able to do lately. Although the Chargers used a first-round pick on D.J. Fluker, who is a much better run blocker than pass blocker, I don’t see noticeable upgrades on the offensive line. I also don’t see much upside or potential star power in the group. Changing scheme could help by getting the ball out of Rivers’ hands quicker, but he could be headed for another punishing season.

Defense: Time to step up
The Chargers have several promising young defensive players who could be ready to break out. Eric Weddle is among the league’s best safeties, and Corey Liuget has already established himself as a real force on San Diego’s defensive line. Kendall Reyes might not be far behind Liuget and should become more of a household name this season. Manti Te’o could have an instant impact in his rookie season and pair with Donald Butler to be one of the better inside-linebacker tandems in the league.

Wild card: Receiver situation
Antonio Gates isn’t what he once was, but he still makes plays, and Rivers trusts him. The Chargers have many other receiving options now: Danario Alexander, Malcom Floyd, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, John Phillips, Ladarius Green, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown. How will that sort out? My favorites are Allen, Vincent Brown and Green. Getting these young weapons plenty of reps could pay off in the long term for San Diego.
Reggie McKenzie’s first draft pick in Oakland is facing some spring competition.

The Bay Area News Group reported that Lucas Nix was working ahead of Tony Bergstrom at left guard Tuesday at the Raiders’ organized team activities (OTAs). Of course, it is early, and I’d expect both to compete through the summer at the spot previously occupied by Cooper Carlisle, who has since been released.

That said, it has to be a bit disappointing that Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, is not taking the early lead. Nix was an undrafted free agent signing last year out of Pittsburgh.

The Raiders drafted Bergstrom as a fit for the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used on offense last season -- an unsuccessful approach the team has since scrapped in favor of a more traditional power-blocking scheme. In February, I asked McKenzie, who took over as general manager in 2012, if he was confident Bergstrom could be part of the future. He was firm in his belief that Bergstrom could indeed fit in the new scheme.

Bergstrom failed to make to a push for major playing time as a rookie. Now it appears he will have to fight Nix moving forward.

In another interesting Oakland OTA note, second-year player Christo Bilukidi and free-agent pickup Vance Walker were working with the first unit at defensive tackle. Bilukidi showed flashes as a rookie late in the season. Walker was a productive situational player in Atlanta.

As at many positions in Oakland, the Raiders want to see some players take the next step and grab a lead role at defensive tackle. While it is early, Bilukidi and Walker are getting the chance to show they deserve to start.

In other AFC West notes:

Peyton Manning is enjoying this offseason much more than last, when he was recovering from four neck surgeries and adjusting to life in Denver.

Former No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson is impressing the new Kansas City brass at defensive end.

Some bookkeeping reminders: Oakland gets $8 million in salary-cap relief for the Michael Huff cut and San Diego gets $4.5 million relief after cutting Jared Gaither on Saturday. Both teams will primarily use the money to sign draft picks.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a key player from each NFC South team who needs to show something in offseason sessions:

Atlanta Falcons: Drafted in the first round in 2009, Peria Jerry was supposed to be a dominant defensive tackle. That got thrown off track very quickly when Jerry tore up his knee in the second game of his rookie season. He has come back but never has been close to being the player he was before the injury. The Falcons have accepted that Jerry is only a role player. But Vance Walker left via free agency, and they would like Jerry’s role to increase this season. They want him to be the top option in the rotation behind starters Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters. This is the final year of Jerry’s contract. If the Falcons aren’t completely sold on what they see in Jerry during the rest of the offseason program and preseason, they could bring in a veteran defensive tackle.

Carolina Panthers: It is blatantly clear that it is now or never for wide receiver Armanti Edwards. The Panthers gave up a future second-round pick to draft Edwards in the third round of the 2010 draft. The hope was that the former college quarterback could be an effective receiver and return man. To date, Edwards has five career receptions and hasn’t been able to hold on to the return job. The acquisitions of return specialist Ted Ginn and a growing list of young receivers seem to put Edwards very much on the bubble as training camp approaches.

New Orleans Saints: Safety Malcolm Jenkins might be the most perplexing player in this division. A first-round pick in 2009, Jenkins seems to possess every talent (physical skills, work ethic and intellect) necessary to be a star. Yet Jenkins really hasn’t had much of an impact. Maybe new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will figure out a way to get Jenkins finally to play up to his potential. But the Saints used a first-round pick on Kenny Vaccaro, and they want to get him on the field. Maybe the arrival of Vaccaro will light a fire under Jenkins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The team is putting a lot of eggs in Da’Quan Bowers' basket. After letting Michael Bennett depart through free agency, the Bucs have made it clear they’re counting on Bowers to be their main pass-rusher. The potential is there for that move to work out well. Bowers has rare physical skills and quickness. But injuries slowed him in his first two seasons. He needs to show the Bucs he can handle the wear and tear of starting for an entire season.
It’s unfinished business day in the AFC West.

Hours after the San Diego Chargers finally booted left tackle Jared Gaither, the Oakland Raiders said so long to defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. Both were long expected to be cut.

Kelly, 32, saw his play decline last season. He had been on the team since 2003 when he was signed as an undrafted free agent. His release reportedly saves $4.775 million under the salary cap this year. Yet, he will still account for more than $6.3 million against the cap in dead money. Kelly signed a seven-year, $50.5 million deal in 2008.

He was a solid player during his best days. He was massive and tough. But he was never a unit-changing player.

There was little chance Kelly fit with the new approach of the team. The Raiders are getting younger and cheaper throughout the roster. Several veterans are not being brought back. As the Contra Costa Times pointed out, Oakland has just seven players on the roster -- including quarterback Carson Palmer, who could be released -- who have been in the league six years or more.

The team signed defensive tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker. They could also draft Florida’s Sharrif Floyd with the No. 3 pick.

Some folks expect Kelly to get receive interest around the league. While anything can happen, I don’t see any fits in the AFC West that immediately jump out.
Here is a list, in my opinion, of the top 10 free-agent additions in the AFC West this year:

1. Wes Welker, WR, Denver: He has led the NFL in receptions the past six years, and he's a perfect fit in Denver.

2. Sean Smith, CB, Kansas City: He’s young, big and talented. Good get.

3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Denver: Almost as good as Smith. He has big ability.

4. Derek Cox, CB, San Diego: Could be a strong impact player. Very good when healthy.

5. Louis Vasquez, OG, Denver: Understated guy. A roadgrader.

6. Terrance Knighton, DT, Denver: Another big man who will help Denver at a need position.

7. Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City: A field stretcher who will fit Andy Reid’s offense.

8. Pat Sims, DT, Oakland: Scouts love this guy, but he needs to stay healthy.

9. Mike DeVito, DT, Kansas City: An underrated run stuffer. Should be a big help.

10. Dunta Robinson, CB, Kansas City: A fine player rounds out this list. A solid addition.

Honorable mention: Chad Rinehart, G, San Diego; Nick Roach, LB, Oakland; Vance Walker, DT, Oakland; Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego.
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at whether each AFC West team has been a winner or a loser in free agency:

Denver Broncos: Yes, the Elvis Dumervil fax-machine fiasco will long be remembered. The Broncos may be guilty by association, but the ball was in the court of Dumervil's now-fired agent at the deadline, so Denver really was a frustrated bystander when it mattered. That incident shouldn’t sully an otherwise-terrific offseason by Denver. The Broncos had a plan and executed it well. It starts with Wes Welker. The slot receiver is a perfect weapon for Peyton Manning. Welker’s signing was affordable and hurt AFC rival New England -- a strong addition for a team that has Super Bowl designs. Former San Diego guard Louis Vasquez, former Philadelphia cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton were all smart, impact signings. This was a winning offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs: It’s difficult to find anyone who would argue that this wasn’t a winning offseason. In fact, the Chiefs might be among the biggest winners in free agency in the entire league. The Chiefs were aggressive and addressed every big need. First, they traded for quarterback Alex Smith, answering their most glaring hole with the best available player at the position. Then, they kept three key free agents in receiver Dwayne Bowe, punter Dustin Colquitt and left tackle Branden Albert. And after that, the Chiefs jumped aggressively into free agency. The additions of Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith could give Kansas City the best group of cornerbacks in the NFL. The Chiefs added in several other areas, including field-stretching receiver Donnie Avery and run-stuffing defensive lineman Mike DeVito. The new brass is determined to move on from the 2-14 disaster that was 2012.

Oakland Raiders: This is a difficult one. For the second consecutive year, the Raiders have been strapped by lingering salary-cap issues. They were forced to cut some players and saw several others leave as free agents. The exodus of young, talented players included tight end Brandon Myers, defensive linemen Desmond Bryant and Matt Shaughnessy and linebacker Philip Wheeler. The Raiders responded nicely by adding three linebackers and three defensive linemen as they totally reconstruct their defense. Players such as linebacker Nick Roach and defensive linemen Vance Walker and Pat Sims have a chance to help immediately. And yet it is difficult to think that this team, which went 4-12, has improved. Yes, the Raiders got some good players, but many holes remain. Again, it’s just a fact of life for this strapped team, whose reconstruction is very much under way.

San Diego Chargers: It would be difficult to make a case that this team has been neither a winner nor a loser in free agency. The Chargers have just kind of been hanging around. They haven’t lost much, but they haven’t added much, at least in terms signing players sure to fill holes. But new general manager Tom Telesco is known for finding good players at a good rate. The Chargers haven’t had a ton of cap space and have been fairly conservative. They have added some good players, starting with cornerback Derek Cox and guard Chad Rinehart; both are highly respected around the league. Running back Danny Woodhead also will help the offense. Questions remain on the offensive line and in the secondary, but it seems as though Telesco is going to work selectively to build a program his way. It remains to be seen if it will help the Chargers improve immediately.

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