Oakland Raiders Salary Cap: Plenty of Work to do Before 2012 NFL Draft
John Doublin – Mar 1, 2012With the conclusion of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL free agent signing period closing in, fans of the Oakland Raiders are beginning to speculate about what positions Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen will target in the draft.
The team has needs for certain, but there are a myriad of other issues that must be solved before Oakland can even think about making a draft selection. Deciding on who to draft now would be a colossal mistake because so many things can change the team needs between now and April 26th.
First and foremost, the deadline for teams to be under the estimated $120 million salary cap is approaching fast. March 13th marks the day every team will be required to be under the cap and if they're not, they will start having to pay cap penalties.
The Raiders have a few options to reach that number. Several players are making more money than their production would dictate. Restructuring these contracts should be the first priority.
Some players, like Richard Seymour, have already stated that they are willing to renegotiate to help the team. McKenzie should get something done with these players as soon as possible.
Other players, like Kamerion Wimbley, have stated that they are absolutely not interested in renegotiating. In these cases, the Raiders' staff will have to decide what to do with themâ€”cut them, keep them or trade them.
Another aspect that must be considered is what to do with potential free agents. The Raiders have more free agents than just Tyvon Branch and Michael Bush. Jason Campbell, Quentin Groves, Chaz Schilens, Stephon Heyer, Trevor Scott, Kyle Boller, Jarvis Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rock Cartwright, Daryl Blackstock and Khalif Barnes are all due to become free agents.
While it's true that some of these men didn't do much to prove their worth to the team, others played big roles. McKenzie, along with Allen, must decide which of these men are worth keeping and which should be allowed to test the free agent waters.
Once McKenzie and Allen decide which players to keep and which to let go, then they will be confronted with determining if there is an available free agent who would help the teamâ€”and whether or not the team can afford them.
There are many quality defensive free agents who play positions of need for the Raiders. With the departure of Stanford Routt, the Raiders will need a cornerback. Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Tracy Porter and Brandon Carr are players that can help the team. Linebackers London Fletcher, Chase Blackburn and safety Michael Griffin can also help the Raiders in 2012.
The question is, can Oakland afford them? That is for McKenzie, Mark Davis and the rest of the front office to decide.
All of the issues described above must be attended to long before the Raiders should even consider who they will draft. Free agents coming and going and cap casualties will all affect the needs of the team and not resolving these issues will not give McKenzie and the team a clear picture of what positions are needed in the draft.
Here's a quick run-down of the players and positions that must be evaluated, scrutinized and mulled over before Oakland should worry about the 2012 NFL Draft.
â€¢ Wimbleyâ€”Will he renegotiate? If not, do we cut, trade or pay him?
â€¢ Seymourâ€”We know he wants to stay, but how much restructuring is he willing to do?
â€¢ Huffâ€”What can he really do for the team? CB/FS? Is he worth the $5 million cap hit?
â€¢ Bushâ€”Should he be re-signed, franchised or let go?
â€¢ Branchâ€”How much will he cost? Should we franchise him?
â€¢ Scottâ€”Did he contribute enough to justify re-signing him? If so, at what price?
â€¢ Sateleâ€”Is his play worthy of re-signing him?
â€¢ Mossâ€”Did he do enough to justify another contract?
â€¢ RTâ€”Barnes has to go, is Joe Barksdale Ready? If not, who is?
â€¢ RGâ€”Can Carlisle make it another year? If not, who can replace him?
â€¢ Câ€”Do we move Wisniewski now? If not, who should start at center?
â€¢ LGâ€”If Wiz 2.0 moves, is Heyer ready? If not, who is?
â€¢ CB-1â€”Is this Chekwa's job? If not, do we draft someone or sign a free agent?
â€¢ CB-2â€”Is Chekwa or Van Dyke ready to play every down? If not, who is?
â€¢ FSâ€”Can Huff do the job or not? If not, do we get a rookie, free agent or current player?
â€¢ MLBâ€”Give McClain another year? Do we move Curry here or sign a free agent?
â€¢ OLBâ€”Does Wimbley fit? Can we afford him? If not, who?
â€¢ OLBâ€”Can McClain play here? Do we leave Curry here? Do we get a free agent?
â€¢ RB-2â€”Is Bush still here? Is Jones ready? Can we get someone in the draft?
â€¢ WR-3, 4 and 5â€”Has Murphy grown enough? Is Schilens gone? Draft? Free agent?
This is just the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" when considering the questions that need to be answered before settling on any rookie draft pick.
In the end, there is so much to do in the coming weeks before McKenzie and the Raiders make any decisions on who to draft or which positions to fill that Raider fans should stop speculating and prognosticating about it until all those problems are solved.
On Monday, March 5th at 7:00pm Pacific time, (10:00pm Eastern) I'll be discussing all of these issues on my Pod cast, All Things Silver & Black with my guest, Jeff Fagan from RaidersBlog.com. Be sure to tune in and get the full breakdown of all that must be done before draft day.
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