OK, the free agent period is underway and thus far the Raiders have had a few losses and as of this writing have yet to bring in any free agents from the outside.
Some of these moves were expected if not hoped for when Cornell Green signed in Buffalo, whilst others were a bit more of a significant loss like Justin Fargas and Greg Ellis. However, with the sum total of the losses so far, what positions do the Raiders need to address?
Today is a look at the offense…
The Raiders tendered quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, as well as have JaMarcus Russell under contact. Tom Cable has said that this position is up for grabs, which means that they Al Davis has not given up on Russell. This is a weak quarterback draft and free agent class, so they will likely sit tight and if Russell or Gradkowski aren’t getting it done, they will make a move at this position in 2011.
They seemed to be set at running back at the opening of the offseason. However, when they released Fargas, they did reduce their depth at this position. Gary Russell is still available and could be a third running back/ second fullback. With the combination of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden at the top of the depth chart, the Raiders won’t need to make any high impact moves here.
The Raiders have a young receiving corps with Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens being the most reliable receivers in Silver and Black. Rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey had an extremely disappointing season, and Johnnie Lee Higgins was mostly invisable. Todd Watkins made a cameo apperance early in the season, but was a non-factor. They did rid themselves of the Javon Walker mistake. However, they could use a veteran to mentor this group.
The Raiders have Zach Miller who is emerging as one of the better all around tight ends in the league. Brandon Myers showed some flashes during his rookie season as a receiver and blocker. Tony Stewart has been a special teams player. If they feel they can upgrade from Stewart and find a crushing blocker, it could be an asset. However, this is a low priority position.
Cornell Green is gone. This means the Raiders could be setting up an Erik Pears-Khalif Barnes-Langston Walker competition for that position. They could throw a wrench into that idea and draft one of the top offensive tackles in the draft, thus throwing Mario Henderson into the competition for the right side. Green’s departure is addition by subtraction. They should look at addition by addition now for the tackle position.
Robert Gallery is entrenched as the left guard, but an offseason back injury does raise long term questions. Cooper Carlisle has been effective since the Raiders brought him over from Denver prior to the 2007 season. Chris Morris has been adequate as a fill in, and he is on a seventh round tender, and is not likely to see much action. They may want to upgrade for Carlisle, although it would not be a priority.
Samson Satele did not live up to expectations after he was acquired from the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2009 season. Chris Morris started the season as the starter, but he was less than impressive.This is a position the Raiders really should look into upgrading if possible.
The Raiders have begun clearing things out to make moves, and they do have several that they will have to make if they want to get off their streak of bad times.