As bleak as the Oakland Raiders finances have been over the past two years, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. According to ESPN.com, the Raiders are still in a very solid position with approximately $7.6 million in salary cap space. This report is on the heels of a late May story, which stated that the Raiders may not have enough money to sign the remainder of their rookies without more contract restructuring. What a difference the new NFL year can make.
Now, Reggie McKenzie can sign rookies Tyler Wilson, Menelik Watson, and D.J. Hayden to their respective contracts. I’m sure we will see these deals completed prior to the beginning of training camp. Even better, after the signing of these rookies, there will be money left over. This will in fact allow McKenzie to pursue more veteran free agents. Two of the free agents McKenzie may pursue are Willis McGahee and Desmond Bishop.
It has been highly publicized that Willis McGahee would be a good fit for Oakland. However, I don’t believe this would pan out. First of all, according to the Colorado Springs Gazzette there were concerns about McGahee’s health. Does this mean he hasn’t fully recovered from the injury that sidelined him in 2012, or do the Denver Broncos not want to take a chance on a 32-year-old running back with a lot of knee issues? Who could blame them with the depth and youth they have at the running back position. Look, McGahee is a beast of a runner when healthy, but he isn’t healthy anymore. If he was 100%, I feel that the Denver Broncos would have kept him. For me, there are just too many unanswered questions.
Another prospect is Linebacker Desmond Bishop. This guy is one heck of a player. It just so happens that the Oakland Raiders could use him. With the rumors out of mini-camp of a diversified defensive scheme with both 4-3 and 3-4 packages, Bishop would fit right in. When Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay, Bishop was there. I know, Bishop suffered a torn hamstring that sidelined him in 2012. Hey, I had him as one of my Individual Defensive Players (IDP’s) for my fantasy team. I had to drop him and find another linebacker, but in 2011 he was a beast at the linebacker position. He stuffed the run and dropped back into pass coverage. He intercepted balls and took them to the house.
Bishop to the Oakland Raiders makes a lot of sense to me. We are going to have to wait, because he met with the Minnesota Vikings yesterday. The Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said in a press conference on Wednesday that Bishop went through a “good workout.” According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he is scheduled to meet with the Kansas City Chiefs today. Hopefully, he will get to visit the Oakland Raiders as well.
Of course, one of the biggest questions facing the Raiders is their defensive line. Lamarr Houston is a good defensive end, and Andre Carter is a good veteran to have around. However, the Raiders need another defensive tackle or defensive end with pass rushing capabilities. There are young second year players for those positions (i.e., Christo Bilukidi and Jack Crawford), but they haven’t come out of their shell just yet. We need more skilled defensive linemen to come into camp and push the younger players to step it up.
We have the money to pursue a free agent on the open market. Players at defensive tackle and defensive end that would be good additions are John Abraham, Daniel Muir, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Shaun Cody, Israel Idonije, or Amobi Okoye. Any of those could be signed to a one or two-year deal for a low-cost and contribute right away. Bring them in before camp and make them compete. If they don’t pan-out, they’re released before the start of the regular season for the better player at that position.
The news media and Raider Haters out there will say what they want and nobody can stop them, but now they can keep quiet about the Oakland Raiders money woes. With the extra money and the estimated over $50 million under the salary cap next year, Reggie McKenzie finally has room to spread his wings and get this team to the playoffs. He can fortify positions with depth from the draft and grab key veteran free agent players to contribute right away. I see nothing but the upside of this scenario. I’m not ignorant to the problems of the past or the questions of the immediate future, but I believe we are headed in the right direction. I just want to be one of the first to say thank you to Reggie McKenzie for getting this team back on track.