Oakland Raiders: The Dawn of Free Agency

David Wilson – Mar 10, 2014

With the real free agency period beginning tomorrow, a lack of signings (of their own free agents) and rumours has the Raider Nation nervous about what the new day will bring.

Jared Veldheer & Lamarr Houston remain unsigned, and prime free agents such as Sam Shields and Everson Griffen have signed with their original clubs. Others such as Branden Albert are hotly rumoured to be close to deals with other teams.

In a shrinking market, the price goes up, and while I have head the Oakland Raiders linked to a number of free agents (Eugene Monroe/Roger Saffold), there is nothing concrete yet for the Raider Nation to cheer about.

With the Raiders having more cap space than any other team, and mostly more holes to fill, you would expect them to be big players in the free agent market right?

But nothing yet, and that makes the Raider Nation very, very nervous.

Did Reggie make the right call in not franchising Veldheer or Houston? Why no rumours about pursuit of Michael Johnson or Alterraun Verner?

Concern is understandable, but have faith in Reggie. John Madden himself endorsed this guy, and so did Ron Wolf. Praise indeed

Plenty of free agents remain, and with so many holes to fill, Oakland needs half a dozen quality starters rather than one or two splash players.

I have no doubt that Reggie is playing his cards really close to his chest, and you can be sure that there is plenty going on behind the scenes.

The Lamarr Houston situation is interesting, as rumour has it he was asking big, big money for his services. If the Raiders had been willing to pay him what he was asking, he would be under contract by now.

The smart move was to wait, and now that Everson Griffen ($8.5 million/year) and Michael Bennett ($7.1 million/year) have signed deals, the market value is set. That makes it a lot easier to gauge Houston’s value, and also tells him what exactly he will get on the open market. If the Raiders then want to retain him, and at the right price they should, they can do so without overpaying.

Whether the offense starts Jared Veldheer, Eugene Monroe, or Anthony Collins at left tackle, then Reggie has to go get the right guy at the right price to allow him to throw money at other free agents to fill other holes.

The defensive line stand out as a huge need.

And if there is a year to spend big, this is it. Not just because the Raiders have money to spend, but because of the likelihood that the salary cap will hit $150 million in the next two years, devaluing current contracts by around 11%, and thus making a marginally overpaid player seem like a bargain down the line.

There will be the ability to sustain any big contracts signed this year due to that cap increase, and good GM’s will see that. We should also remember that both Reggie McKenzie’s and Dennis Allen’s jobs job hinge on the performance of the team this year.

This isn’t a year where Reggie will look to save money on the cap for next year. There might not be one for him if things don’t work out.

I think that there will be some surprises in this free agency period for the Raiders, and a lot of fans who hit the panic button and wrote/tweeted bad things about Reggie will have to eat their words.

Now I have another reason to hope he gets it right, so I don’t have to eat mine….

When all is said and done, and free agency and the draft have come and gone, that is the time to judge, not now. Even then, what the team does on the field is more important than it looks like on paper.

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