Raiders Free Agency Preview

Photo via ESPN Images

The Raiders had one of the worst secondaries last year even with future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.   The Raiders were taken advantage of continuously to start the year until surprise acquisition David Amerson stepped up took one of the starting jobs at corner.   Once he was moved into the starting lineup the raiders secondary began to climb towards respectability.  However, the Raiders still have many decisions to make.  They lost Charles Woodson, have to decide on whether to keep DJ Hayden, know if TJ Carrie and David Amerson can be starting corners for the long term and if Nate Allen will be healthy to take one of the starting Safety positions.
Top Players to Land
Eric Weddle:  A veteran safety who is as close to replacing Charles Woodson as possible.  Not a long term solution, but a very good short-term option who can bring leadership intangibles and help a possible safety that the Raiders should look to draft in the next year or two.
Sean Smith:
A big physical corner with a lot of skill.  Two things the Raiders don’t have in the secondary. Not to mention they could steal him from their division rival Kansas City.

Defensive End/ Pass Rusher
The recent retiring of Justin Tuck and recent injury history of Mario Edwards Jr. makes this a position of need.  Mario even if healthy is a very promising player who can definitely hold down one of the DE spots for years to come.  However, with no Tuck, a suspended Aldon Smith (assuming Raiders resign him), and an injured Mario Edwards the Raiders need at least 1,  maybe 2 starting caliber linemen this offseason.
Top Players to Land
Oliver Vernon:
A young player who has incredible pass rushing talent.  He is tendered by the dolphins, but they may not have the money to match free agent offers.  Could be an incredible steal for the Raiders.
Mario Williams:
A veteran with a ton of talent.  Shouldn’t cost an absurd amount of money.  Like Eric Weddle, he is a short-term solution, but would be a good replacement for Tuck.
Malik Jackson:
Young stud for the Broncos who can rush the passer and stop the run.  More of a tackle than end, but still would be very valuable and it steals another star from a rival.

Middle Linebacker
The man in the middle of the defense last year was Curtis Lofton.  Good at coming up against the run, but is not a three down linebacker and struggles to cover.  An upgrade here isn’t necessary but will be very helpful.  In addition, the raiders could look for linebacker depth with the suspension of Aldon Smith.
Top Player to Land
Danny Trevathan:
Denver linebacker who has great cover skills.  Raiders got abused by tight ends throughout the season and are in major need of a linebacker with elite covering skills.  May be hard to lure him away from the broncos but the reward would be extremely high.

Backup RB
Latavius Murray is good back, but not great.  He needs a second back who can carry the load from time to time.  The raiders were not very efficient running the ball and need an effective 1-2 punch to really catapult the run game forward.  Latavius has also had an injury history, so a capable backup if Latavius goes down will keep this Raiders offense on track if he is out for a week or two.
Top Player to Land
Ryan Matthews:
He is on the trade block and if the raiders could swing a trade for only a 6th or 7th round pick it would be a huge addition to this offense.
Right Guard
The major weakness of the Raiders offensive line is at right guard.  The Raiders may also look to fill this position through the draft, but should be open to a veteran at a bargain price to fill in for the short term.  In addition, the raiders may need a new left tackle if they decide to let veteran Donald Penn go.
Top Players to Land
Alex Boone:
He is a solid player for the Niners and could be a nice addition for the Raiders.  Not a necessary position of need because I believe Reggie could find a solid piece in the mid rounds of the draft.
Donald Penn:
Raiders better have a plan to sign an elite tackle if they decide to let Donald Penn leave.  It would be an utter disaster if they let him go and can’t bring in the target they want.  Russel Okung and Andre Smith are names that come up that would be an upgrade over Penn, but there are not very many upgrades available.

Other players to watch:
Janoris Jenkins (CB, Rams)
Derrick Johnson (LB, Chiefs)
Alfred Morris (RB, Washington)
Reggie Nelson (S, Cincinnati)
George Illoka  (S, Cincinnati)
Arian Foster (RB, Houston)
Ramon Foster (G, Pittsburgh)
Chris Long (DE, Rams)
Rashad Johnson (S, Arizona)

Leave a Reply