2012 NFL Free Agency: 5 Positions the Oakland Raiders Don't Need to Target
John Doublin – Feb 17, 2012The 2012 NFL Free Agent signing period is nearly upon us, (begins March 13th). As the "new era" of Oakland Raiders football begins, there are plenty positions on the team for Reggie McKenzie to upgrade with experienced players.
When one considers the fact that Oakland is already over the salary cap, it's likely there won't be a lot of money to spend in free agency. Therefore, why spend money on high profile players for positions that don't really need to be upgraded?
There are plenty positions on the team that are deep enough and don't need improvement. McKenzie and the Raiders should avoid spending money on these positions and focus on the real positions of need.
So, what are the Raiders' areas of strength? What positions are already strong enough, deep enough and good enough that spending more money on them would be wasteful?
Carson Palmer is under contract and has already be named the starter for next season. Jason Campbell may or may not be back for another year, but with Terrelle Pryor learning and growing, quarterback is not a position that needs to be addressed in free agency.
If Campbell does leave to be a free agent, the Raiders may choose to hire a veteran signal-caller via free agency, but there is no need to consider the "Big splash," big-dollar guy like Peyton Manning.
There are much more logical ways to spend that kind of money.
Darren McFadden has had his injury problems, Michael Bush is going to be courted by other teams and Taiwan Jones is raw and unproven. However, D-mac will be back healthy and Jones did prove he can tote the rock last year when he averaged nearly six yards per carry when he was healthy.
With that said, even if Bush leaves the team to be a starter elsewhere, replacing a back-up running back is much easier and cheaper than just about any other position in the game. Productive, reliable backs have been found very late in the draft, and some have even been undrafted recently.
If Bush leaves, McKenzie should look for a third running back late in the draft, not in free agency.
While it's true there are some very good players available at this spot, why upgrade a position that is already well stocked and productive? The Raiders found a gem in Denarius Moore in the fifth round last year, Jacoby Ford in the fourth round the previous year and Darrius Heyward-Bey has started to emerge as the player Al Davis expected him to be.
Wide receiver is a "glory" position that comes with a price tag to match. The fact is, Oakland's young wide-outs are talented, hungry and getting better every day. Paying a guy like Vincent Jackson the money it would take to get him would only hinder McKenzie's ability to upgrade the team where it's really needed.
This kind of money should be spent elsewhere.
Richard Seymour is nearing the end of his career, Tommy Kelly is doing a great job, John Henderson is still a great situational player and Desmond Bryant is beginning to show some real impact. Seymour has already been paid his roster bonus and agreed to renegotiate if needed.
There are a few players at this position that could be valuable to the team. The problem is that they will come with a hefty price attached. While defensive tackle will be a position of need in the not-so-distant future, the players already employed by the Raiders can, and will be more than adequate for one more season.
The logical thing to do is to get a "project" player in the draft as an insurance policy for next season, and groom him to be a starter in years to come.
Matt Shaughnessy is a great player that will be hungry coming off a season-ending injury, Lamarr Houston is a great run-stuffer, Trevor Scott has been converted back to his natural position, Jarvis Moss can be re-signed for a bargain, and young guys like Mason Brodine and Hall Davis are learning and getting better.
Adding the fact that Dez Bryant can play on the end if asked to, makes defensive end one of the deepest positions on the team. That said, this spot could be better, but spending tons of money on a guys like Cliff Avril, John Abraham or Robert Mathis would take money away from other spots that need an upgrade more.
The ends currently on the team are good for now. It's better for the Raiders to "go with who they have" at defensive end in 2012, and worry about upgrading in future drafts.
While it's accurate to say that every position on the team could be better than it is, it wouldn't make sense to "fix what isn't broken." None of these positions are broken at the moment.
The best positions for the Raiders to spend their free agent money on would be cornerback, linebacker, offensive line depth and free safety. These are the spots on the roster that are in most need of upgrade and depth right now.
Unfortunately, everything we've come to expect from the Raiders' off-season procedures and tendencies are gone. General manager Reggie McKenzie will be doing things much differently than Raider Nation is used to, so predicting what's going to happen is virtually impossibleâ€”but, that won't keep fans from trying!
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