Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free-agency review: Raiders
By Bill Williamson
Most significant signing: Cornerback Tarell Brown. Oakland signed him away from crosstown rival San Francisco. Brown received a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He is a solid player, and I think he can be the Raiders' best veteran cornerback in a few years. If D.J. Hayden can improve and stay healthy in his second season, the Raiders have a solid pair of cornerbacks. I like this move over some of the other bigger defensive players the Raiders signed, such as Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith, because of value and impact at the position. I also like the pickup of former Green Bay receiver James Jones on Monday evening. He is a solid player who should become the Raiders' most reliable receiver. This is exactly the type of signing a team with a surplus of cap room should execute.
Most significant loss: Left tackle Jared Veldheer. Defensive end Lamarr Houston is a close second. Veldheer gets the nod as the worst whiff because the Raiders have not replaced him (more about that later). The Raiders had the most salary-cap room in the NFL, and it was telling they couldn't keep these two good, young players. Successful teams keep their own players. For the Raiders to create holes and, in Houston's case, get older in the process is not efficient free-agency management.
Biggest surprise: The event surrounding tackle Rodger Saffold. This has been the league's strangest story of free agency. The Raiders tried to replace Veldheer with Saffold. After that deal was widely panned because Veldheer is considered a better player than Saffold, the Raiders voided the deal because Saffold failed his physical. The Rams, Saffold's previous team, were well aware of his physical condition and quickly signed Saffold. Now the Raiders, despite all their cap room, have a gaping hole at a premium position.
What's next? The Raiders reportedly have $51 million in cap room (still the most in the NFL). They still have to build their roster, so there is plenty of work to do. It is bargain time in free agency, so the Raiders should have the ability to pick and choose whom they want to sign. In addition to finding Veldheer's replacement, the Raiders are also looking at quarterbacks. Possibilities include a trade for Houston's Matt Schaub, Mark Sanchez and perhaps Michael Vick.