With all of the bigger fish gone from the free agency pond it’s time for the Oakland Raiders to cast their reel. No, Reggie McKenzie won’t be making any waves on his firs dip in the free agency pool but he’s still got to field a football team in 2012.
The Raiders just don’t have the cash available to attract the splashy signings. Safe to say most of the whales in Vegas are showing up to sports with more coin in their pockets than the Raiders will be spending on FAs. McKenzie is going to have to take a page out of his neighbor Billy Beane’s book on building a competitor.
Unlike the Al Davis ways of the past, these new Raiders are balling on a budget.
Thus far only two names have surfaced on the Raiders’ quest to put new talent in silver and black.
Yesterday word spread that the Raiders are scheduled to host former Houston Texans guard Mike Brisiel. That news came on the heels of the Raiders releasing the man Brisiel would likely replace. Proving just how cold this business is, the search for Cooper Carlisle’s replacement began mere minutes after he was shown the exit.
While finding a new guard for the line is an area of need the more pressing problem is getting some veteran experience at cornerback.
Currently the Raiders only have two corners on the roster both of whom are entering their second season under a cloud of uncertainty. Neither DeMarcus Van Dyke nor Chimdi Chekwa can feel safe about their prospects. Not with the way that McKenzie is slicing and dicing. There was talk of Michael Huff becoming a fulltime corner but that was prior to the new coaching regime coming in. Time will tell on that. What matters now is making sure this team isn’t going at it on defense with the same approach taken last season.
That’s why the Raiders have scheduled a visit with former St. Louis Rams corner Ron Bartell. While the Al Davis doctrine might not be in full effect Bartell is an Al Davis kind of guy. He’s got good size for a corner, standing 6’1” and tipping the scales at over 200-pounds. More importantly he’s got 4.3-second speed.
That all sounds nice on paper but there is plenty of concern. A former second round pick, Bartell was a fixture in the St. Louis secondary the last seven years until a neck injury ended his season during the first game of 2011. Back in ’08 the Rams gave him a four-year deal but that contract was terminated after his year on IR. No telling what his health is like. That will surely be a major issue the Raiders will review during the visit.
What else is unknown is exactly where the Raiders stand with regards to the salary cap. No matter the exact figure they’re going to have to get creative in the free agent pursuits.