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Free Agency, Day 3: Taking Shape

Raiders’ new GM Reggie’s McKenzie’s philosophy is starting to take shape now 3 days into his first free agency.

For starters, he’s not a fan of contracts that he feels are “out of whack.”  John Henderson, Kevin Boss, Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, Carson Palmer, Richard Seymour, Hiram Eugene – all had contracts that were either too high for their level of play or too much a hit against the salary cap and all were mentioned as being possible targets. 


Each one has been targeted with Henderson, Boss, Johnson, Routt and Eugene released and Palmer and Seymour restructuring.

While it’s possible that the Raiders have been inactive in the first few days of free agency because of little cap room, I don’t believe that’s the case.  I believe that McKenzie has learned in his time in Green Bay that the first days yield contracts that are too player friendly.

Many of the contracts that have been signed in the first few days are panic contracts.  Vincent Jackson, Mario Williams, Carl Nicks – they are likely all good players but each will have to be elite for the course of their contracts or those contracts will hamstring their teams down the road.

The Raiders have been in that situation before and it’s not the way to build for a championship.

Instead, the Raiders are building slowly.  They are taking their time in free agency to find the right pieces. 

Playing Host

Today, it was reported that the Raiders will be meeting with former Rams CB Ronald Bartell – a former second round pick in 2005.

The scouting report on Bartell is positive – he’s a big corner at 6’1″, 205 lbs.  In St Louis, Bartell showed the ability to match up against number one wide receiver so if he looks healthy he could be a good risk.

He is a risk because in week one of the 2011 season he hurt his neck – it ended up being a cracked C7 vertebrae – and was put on IR.  That’s obviously a concern for the team because football is such a violent sport.

Bartell is not a ball-hawking CB but possess good coverage skills.  That means he doesn’t gamble on trying to guess what the QB is going to do, he focuses on shadowing his man and making sure he isn’t open.

Rotoworld called Bartell “bizarro DeAngelo Hall” in that he doesn’t get many interceptions – he has only 8 in his career – but he is a good cornerback and staying on his man.  As Raiders fans are aware, Hall gambles and can come away with interceptions but also get burned if he guesses wrong.

Bartell has no other serious injury concerns other than the neck fracture and reportedly his doctors have told him that he is not at any increased risk moving forward, so if the money is right he sounds like a good signing for the team. 

Bartell was cut due to cap issues.  He was in the last year of a 4 year $25 million contract he signed in 2009 and was due $6.2 million this year.  He is 30 years old.

The Raiders have also reportedly reached out to former Saints CB Tracy Porter.  Porter is 5’11, 186 lbs.  He played mostly Nickel for the Saints.  He is 25 and a 4 year veteran of the league.  His only injury concern was microfracture surgery after 2010 for a knee injury that seemed to affect his explosiveness.

Porter has already visited with the Bengals, today, but is also expected to visit with the Raiders.  Raiders HC Dennis Allen was his position coach when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009.

Other News Around the AFC West

Former Raiders TE Kevin Boss, released late Tuesday, signed with the Chiefs today. He will compete with promising TE Tony Moeaki for touches.  Moeaki had a solid rookie season in 2010 but missed all of last season with a left knee injury.

The Chiefs signed free agent WR Eddie Royal, formerly with the Broncos.  It’s likely he’ll be the slot player on the team, much like he was with the Broncos, where he had some success his rookie year in 2008.  In subsequent years, he failed to be the impact player the team had hoped and the Broncos did not attempt to retain him.

Since I mentioned DeAngelo Hall earlier and his gambling tendencies and now I’m discussing Eddie Royal, it’s only fair to bring up that it was Royal’s performance as a rookie in 2008 that likely got Hall released mid season from the Raiders.  Hall had 9 receptions for 145 yards and a TD playing primarily against Hall – as a rookie.

Speaking of Denver – reportedly they are still in the Peyton Manning running.  Denver and Tennessee are mentioned most frequently as the most likely landing spots for Manning, at this time.

A Signing?

As exciting as the Raiders hosting players for workouts may or may not be, I expect their first signing any day now.  Until then be patient, Raiders fans.  The Raiders are going about this offseason the right way.  They are not overreacting and reaching and they are not crippling their future with contracts that players will not be able to live up to.

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