The Oakland Raiders did not do anything crazy during the legal tampering period. However, free agency officially starts today.
Oakland cut players like Sean Smith and Marshall Newhouse. They re-signed players like Giorgio Tavecchio and Shilique Calhoun. They signed WR Griff Whalen and TE Derek Carrier. With about $25 million in cap space, the Raiders can still make a major play without jeopardizing the cap room to extend Khalil Mack.
Don’t worry, there is still plenty of time for the Raiders to make a splash. Unfortunately, it won’t be signing players like Trumaine Johnson, Allen Robinson, Dion Lewis or Muhammad Wilkerson. Oakland was in on those players early but they clearly got outbid by some other teams. Here are some available players to keep an eye on as free agency continues.
The Big Fish: DT Ndamukong Suh
The Raiders have had a glaring need at defensive tackle for years. The Raiders and Suh supposably have mutual interest. We’ve heard this one before, back in 2015. Suh chose the Dolphins and their high guarantees then. Now, he’s 31-years-old and hasn’t had a double-digit sack season since his first year.
Still, Suh is a sizeable upgrade over the Raiders DTs. It remains to be seen if he will take a budget deal. He’s more likely to go to the highest bidder or his hometown team in Seattle. Either way, the Raiders signing Suh would be the big splash they desperately need. They should definitely consider a double-digit bid on Suh. He’d be the big name to inspire players and actually give Mack some help for a couple of seasons.
The Darkhorse: S Eric Reid
Here’s the free agent no one is talking about. Eric Reid is a former Pro Bowler and he is only age 26. Of course, the 49ers are under a new regime so they may not retain Reid. Plus, he was a huge part of the protesting movement which could hurt his value on the open market.
Regardless, Reid is versatile enough to play either safety position. He has not yet been connected to the Raiders but the San Francisco to Oakland pipeline is real. Just ask Navarro Bowman, Michael Crabtree and Aldon Smith.
Nonetheless, Reid is the veteran leader the Raiders revamped secondary. Adding him allows the Raiders to use he and Karl Joseph interchangeably as well as allow Obi Melifonwu to play a nickel-linebacker and corner role. Reid is young enough to gamble on himself with a big one-year deal. The strength of this safety class in the draft should also keep that overall number down.
The Obvious Pick: WR Jordy Nelson
Nelson was a cap-casualty as Green Bay added Jimmy Graham and Mo Wilkerson. One team’s trash is another treasure. Now, Nelson is expected to visit the Raiders.
Both Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden got their starts in Green Bay. Plus, Nelson’s former offensive coordinator is the Raiders’ new receiver coach. That means Nelson should fit the Raiders system and culture. Oakland tried this when they added James Jones during Carr’s rookie season. He was Carr’s favorite target at the time and Nelson could be that moving forward.
Of course, Nelson is going on 33. He missed the 1,000 receiving yard mark for the first time since 2012 last season. Some of that is attributed to Aaron Rodgers missing most of the season but Nelson has had his own injuries in the past. Regardless, Nelson will be a decent value if he can play the slot position at a high level for Oakland.
The Bargain Pick: DE Dion Jordan
Remember the 2013 draft, when the Raiders traded back? Their original pick went to the Dolphins where they selected Dio Jordan. Jordan has been a bust thus far. However, he started showing signs in Seattle last season. He’s gotten his life together and registered 4 sacks and 1 forced fumble for the Seahawks last year.
One of the reasons Jordan is resurfacing is the same reason Lynch saved his career in Seattle. He’s got a life coach who is actually in the Bay Area. Jordan could continue his redemption in the Bay. He’s only 28 years old and still has much of the athleticism that made him the third overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Jordan could immediately compete for starting time at defensive end across from Khalil Mack. He should take a one-year prove-it deal to show that last season was not a fluke.
The Raiders have also been rumored to be interested in players like Rashaan Melvin, Tom Johnson, Jerick McKinnon, Benson Mayowa, Doug Martin and Zach Brown. They should also show interest in players like Preston Brown, Tahir Whitehead, Jerrell Freeman, Trent Murphy, Virgil Green, Kenny Vaccaro, Cornellius Carradine, Todd Davis, Kevin Minter, David Bass, Charles Johnson, Elvis Dumervil, Pierre Desir, Jeremy Lane, Kony Ealy, Tre Boston, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Smith, Adrian Clayborn, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adam Jones, and Dontari Poe.
Who will the Raiders sign in Free Agency?
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