I’ve included the Raiders.com position designation for each player, but for what it’s worth, they list Lamar Woodley as an OLB, even though he said he will be playing DE. The offensive line saw some of the most action in Free Agency. They lost one and added three. The Raiders rarely had more than 7 or 8 active lineman each game, so this group is going to be thinned out by the time final cuts come around. I also think the Raiders will spend one of their first 4 picks on an offensive lineman, probably a guard. My guess on the starting 5 from this list is: LT-Penn, LG-Boothe, C-Wis, RG-Brisiel, RT-Howard. Rumors are out there about Brisiel retiring, if so I think Barnes or the rookie they get in the draft would take his place. One to watch is Menelik Watson staying healthy and beating out Penn, then they move Penn to guard. We all hope Nix won’t see another snap in Silver and Black. They resigned Mady this offseason, he may also be in line for more playing time and possible starting role at Guard.
I show the position designations from Raiders.com on this one as well. Another of the most active positions in Free Agency. They lost 3 (Pat Sims could eventually be added back) and added 3. Perhaps they plan to use Antonio Smith as a DT in some capacity as well. I’m not sure they bring back Pat Sims. Tarver said last year of Sims, “when he wants to, he can be a major disruptive force”. To me that means they don’t like his effort all the time and their offer might reflect that, if they even made an offer. This is another need they could fill in the Draft with one of their first 4 picks. Even adding in Free Agency. I would love to add Jared Allen to this list.
Nick Roach manned the middle and did a great job, even though he did let lineman get on him one too many times in run support. Kevin Burnett played great too and Sio Moore did well for a rookie, but this group is thin, has injury questions and needs to be improved. Not sure if Khalil Mack is available at 5, but if he is I think the Raiders may make the quickest pick in NFL Draft history. Either way, I expect the Raiders to use one of their first 4 picks on a Line Backer, who can cover and rush the passer.
The NFL is a passing league and this depth will not cut it. Granted, if you can rush the passer, your corners don’t all need to be all-pro’s, but this unit needs help and I expect it via the draft from on of their first 4 picks and more in Free Agency. This depth chart concerns me more than seeing DMC as the highest paid Running Back. If the Raiders don’t sign Jared Allen, I hope they sign two Corners and draft another. That’s how sad I think this list is.
I know they say if someone is willing to pay you that amount, you must be worth it. But Tyvon Branch sure as hell hasn’t earned it. He hasn’t earned $7M in his entire career. In 6 years he has: 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 4 Int’s. Yea, he’s averaged over 100 tackles in any season he has played at least 14 games, but in those years, he averaged only 2 tackles for loss/no yards a game. He’s basically invisible. I still can’t forget him getting beat on the goal line by the Texans TE on the same route they ran the week prior on Monday or Sunday Night Football. That tells me he don’t work hard enough. This signing is one I know Reggie regrets and I’m sure he gets cut if he doesn’t have a Pro Bowl year. Brandian Ross was resigned, but I don’t know why. He rated out as the worst in the league in the games he played. I really like Usama and hope he gets more playing time. The Raiders need to sign another Safety before the Draft and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them draft one too. *Overthecap.com didn’t have Charles Woodson listed, so I added him with what his 2013 salary plus what his incentives earned turned out to be.
Sebastian Janikowski had the worst year of his career in 2013 and we all hope the fact he had a new holder was just a quirky coincidence. If it continues, I could see the Raiders cutting bait in 2015 on the only kicker ever drafted in the 1st round. Marquette was solid last year but needs to improve his finesse of placing the ball inside the 20 yard line. I think a million dollars is now the going rate for a pro bowl long snapper.
All in all, the Raiders roster has been moving in the right direction, but they still have major needs in the back-end of the defense, especially at Corner Back. At both Cornerback and Safety, they are just one injury away from a repeat of last year. I look for them to add some depth to those positions in the coming weeks of Free Agency and possibly in May during the NFL Draft. The Raiders have 6 total picks in the 2014 Draft. They have a pick in rounds 1-4 and two in round 7. They will need roughly $4M of cap space to account for their incoming Draft class according to overthecap.com. I expect them to use their picks in rounds 1-4 on these four positions, in no particular order: Defensive Line, Offensive Line, Corner Back, Line Backer. Overthecap.com has the Raiders with estimated $15M of cap space, but that is with Schaub counting as $11M, without Charles Woodson’s numbers and not factoring in the Draft class. With Schaub restructuring, there should be plenty of room to fill in some gaps before the draft.