5 Ways to Make Sure the Oakland Raiders Compete for the Playoffs in 2014
Elias Trejo – Dec 10, 2013
I'm not the General Manager of the Oakland Raiders, yet, but I'm still waiting for Mark Davis or Reggie McKenzie to give me a call so I can be a part of this organization in one way or another. I'll start off mopping the floors if I have to and I'll be the best damn mopper on their payroll. Anyways, until I get that call I'll continue to run my website and write about the things I would do to improve the team next off season. There are five things the Raiders need to do next season to make sure they can come in and compete for a playoff spot in 2014.
1. Keep the Nucleus Intact
Let's remember that this team has been completely turned upside down and that Dennis Allen was asked to coach a roster last year that was filled with players who wouldn't be here this year. The same rules apply this year, a lot of the faces on the roster today won't be around next year. However, Oakland needs to keep it's nucleus intact and keep the guys that have earned a payday. The following players should be kept, I'll divide them into three groups. Must Have, Earned a Contract, and Depth and Development
Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer
Earned a Contract:
Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter, Rashad Jennings,
Depth and Development:
Chimdi Chekwa, Jason Hunter, Tony Pashos, Pat Sims, Vance Walker, Usama Young, Matt McCants
Keeping these guys would give Oakland the depth they need to overcome injuries. Some of these guys are starters, but they may not be starters in 2014 which would be good for the Raiders.
2. Draft to Solidify the Line of Scrimmage
You have to be able to win in the trenches. This season Oakland was filled with injuries along the offensive line. The player that was better suited to be their starting guard in 2013, was forced to start at left tackle. Stefen Wisniewski, Jared Veldheer, and Menelik Watson are the only guys on the roster that I expect to start along the offensive line next year. If Oakland can solidify the interior of their offensive line, they could see a lot more success next season. Adding guys like Cyril Richardson or Zack Martin in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft could go a long way toward making sure this offsensive line is good for years to come.
The defensive line also needs some help. I'm looking at Louis Nix in the first round for the Raiders. A rookie defensive tackle that has the ability to make an impact right away would be ideal. Especially for the soul of the Raider Nation, many of whom are hurting that Star Lotulelei is not a Raider.
3. Improve the Middle of the Roster
I have no idea how some people in the Raider Nation ignore the fact that Oakland is only using 55% of their 2013 salary cap on their active roster. I believe this team has improved and has looked much better than the team last year, and that's with only using about half of their salary cap. Next season Oakland will have some money to spend, and I believe they continue to add better quality football players. I expect 7-10 Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett type of guys to be added next season. This will greatly improve our roster. We are lacking above average talent and depth right now, and solidifying the middle of our roster is key.
I was asked today how many more players do we need to compete, and I answered at least 20 quality players. I also believe that at least half of those 20 need to be starting quality players. I would not be surprised to see Oakland see at least 9 new starters on their team next season. When everyone else is using around $123 to fill their rosters, you can't expect a team with only $55 million to compete.
4. Sign 3 Difference Makers
I'm not about buildling our team via free agency, but if Oakland is able to get a few difference makers I'm all for it. No record breaking contracts, but something smart. I'll throw some random combinations at you so you know what I'm talking about.
Justin Tuck, Brian Orakpo and Eric Decker
Brian Orakpo, Jay Cutler, and Brandon Browner
Jay Cutler, Eric Decker and Greg Olson
My Ideal Situation: Tuck, Orakpo and Terrance Cody.
If we were fortunate enough to get Tuck, Orakpo and Cody with Houston I would be happy and that would allow us to draft more weapons and protection on offense.
5. Keep the Coaching Staff
Many people will complain after losses, but keeping this staff together will be a major part of the Raiders success moving forward. If it were me, I would let Allen finish his four year contract and then judge him based on his final two years and the direction the team is headed in. This coaching staff has a lot of talent and makes up for any inexperience Allen may have, but there is no hiding the lack of talent on the roster.
I have faith in Davis, McKenzie and Allen. These are three smart men who knew the first step towards future success was to get back in a financially stable situation. They knew getting there was going to hurt the team's chances of winning a Super Bowl in 2012 and 2013, but it would greatly help the team's chances of competing for one year in and year out after 2013. So here we are heading into the 2014 season with another losing record and a top ten draft pick. The only difference is? We'll have over $50 million to spend to help improve our roster instead of having to dump over $30 million just to get under the cap.
For more news and notes follow me on Twitter: @Elias_Trejo
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