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Monday, January 13, 2014
A quick look at Raiders free agents

By Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have the No. 5 overall draft pick and would seemingly have some options as they begin Year 1 of their “reconstruction” under third-year general manager Reggie McKenzie and third-year coach Dennis Allen.

Before then, though, the Raiders have some in-house decisions to make as they are scheduled to have 18 unrestricted free agents when free agency begins on March 11. And yes, Oakland will have $60-plus million in salary cap room to play with in free-agent season.

A look, then, at the Raiders’ own pending free agents…

RB Darren McFadden -- Missed 19 of Raiders’ last 41 games with injuries and seems on his way out. Could Cincinnati Bengals' O.C./former Raiders coach Hue Jackson’s complimentary words be considered tampering?

RB Rashad Jennings -- Not exactly a game-breaking running back to build a franchise around, but he exuded toughness, especially after contact, and the Raiders need that in a rebuild.

WR/KR Jacoby Ford -- A healthy scratch the last two games, he could not even find his way on the field to return kicks. He’s most likely gone.

TE Jeron Mastrud -- The starter at the beginning of the season because of his blocking ability, rookie Mychal Rivera is the better pass-catcher.

LT Jared Veldheer -- The cornerstone left tackle should be the Raiders’ Re-sign Priority No. 1, as he showed his dedication and skill in returning from surgery in training camp on his left triceps with little negative effect.

OL Khalif Barnes -- Veteran showed his versatility in moving from right tackle to left tackle to left guard this past season. Sure, he has his share of false starts, but he bailed the O-line out.

RT Tony Pashos -- A pleasant surprise at right tackle, veteran presence might be expendable if Menelik Watson gets act together.

OL Andre Gurode -- Still trying to figure out why the Raiders did not put him at center and move Stefen Wisniewski to left guard early in season.

DE Lamarr Houston -- Re-sign Priority No. 1A, though he’s not a prototypical right defensive end, would benefit from move back to left side, so long as Raiders get a pass-rusher for the right. Jared Allen, anyone? How about Greg Hardy?

DE Jason Hunter -- Showed flashed early but then injuries and unfamiliarity with increased playing time caught up.

DL Vance Walker –- Showed versatility in moving from tackle to end and could be a “bridge” piece for Raiders moving forward, especially if Raiders play more 3-4 defenses.

DT Pat Sims -- Showed Raiders in final two weeks what they had been missing the previous 14 games. When healthy and motivated, a force in the trenches who could be a nose tackle in a 3-4.

DT Daniel Muir -- High-energy big-bodied accent piece in the trenches.

CB Mike Jenkins -- Physical corner would make a great play but then commit a silly penalty. Needed to be more disciplined, but might have taken away his aggressiveness.

CB Tracy Porter -- Re-sign Priority No. 1B. Could make a good argument that he was the defense’s best player from start to finish, definitely its best cornerback in moving into the slot in nickel situations.

CB Phillip Adams -- Injuries had him playing major minutes down the stretch.

FS Charles Woodson -- Spiritual leader of secondary whose slip in play late in season was belied by his strong play early on. He wants to return and the Raiders could certainly do worse than a future Hall of Famer.

S Usama Young -- Flashed at times but a neck injury on Thanksgiving ended his season before he could make a lasting impact.