The Raiders are unlikely to make an early splash in free agency but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to find some great players.
The Raiders have needs on the offensive line and the defensive line, in the linebacking corps and in the secondary. They also have to find a starting tight end.
Not all of these positions will come in free agency, of course, but the Raiders can find some good value in a free agency that lacks some of the blue-chip, marquee players of past free agencies but has a good depth at some positions in which the Raiders need help.
Specifically, there are a number of experienced, if older, cornerbacks and linebackers that have been released in recent days and weeks.
These Raiders may not jump on any position right away but the depth in the position will allow them to leverage a buyer’s market for the service of one or two of their favorite players at these positions.
Per Vic Tafur, the Raiders are most likely to re-sign Phillip Wheeler – with whom they’ve already started negotiations – as well as RB Mike Goodson, SS Mike Mitchell and CB Joselio Hanson.
Once the league year starts – at 4pm tomorrow, also the start of free agency – the Raiders will be able to cut two players and designate them as June 1st cuts.
The advantage of doing this is that players that are cut after June 1st or the two players allowed as a June 1st cut allow the team to spread the cap hit against the team over two seasons.
Expect LB Rolando McClain to be cut in this way and, at this point, it seems likely that the Raiders may designate two players, the maximum per team, as June 1st cuts. If this is the case, Tommy Kelly would be another good option.
The Raiders’ strategy will likely be similar to last year – identify their target players, bring them in, sell them in their system and try to sell them on the team and the environment.
Don’t expect too many big names but the Raiders will try to do what they did with Phillip Wheeler and Joselio Hanson – identify players that may not have been used correctly on their previous team or have potential to be role players.
The Raiders under Reggie McKenzie are trying to build a sustained winning environment and that doesn’t come easily.
It’s clear when listening to Reggie McKenzie that’s he’s very aware of the team under him and its dynamics. He can talk at length about the strengths and weaknesses.
It’s also clear that McKenzie has a plan to grow the team. Time will tell whether that plan is a success or a failure but for my money, growing the team patiently, piece by piece, trying to find the right players with the right team dynamics is the right way to do it.
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Photo by Levi Damien