This is the year we in Raider Nation have long awaited after two horrid seasons in which the word rebuild became an all too familiar story this season is the season the Raiders are supposed to turn our team around. So do I believe we will indeed turn things around this season? I would advise caution before buying in completely. Although, the Raiders did make a few nice moves in free agency we have lost young talent and replaced it with aging veteran players who have proven themselves in the past. The key word in my previous statement being past, despite my great respect for players like James Jones, Justin Tuck, and MJD, all of them have had issues this last season and it could be a sign of things to come. But rather than state my personal opinions and ask for you to blindly accept them allow me to break things down.
Taiwan Jones: I do not think he will be playing corner as the Raiders have gotten strong at the position with the signings of Tarell Brown and Carlos Rodgers, but I do think he will continue to be a quality special teams player. Overall with Jones only making 4.355 million on this deal if he can establish himself at corner while continuing to improve as a special teams player this will then be a great signing.
Khalif Barnes: Despite Barnes having proven himself as a versatile player in that he can play tackle or guard, I do not agree with this signing even as a depth signing. Khalif Barnes has not been a quality player for the Raiders over the years so this signing was a bit puzzling to me. In addition with the plethora of players on the market I think the Raiders would have been better off signing a different player instead of Barnes.
Darren McFadden: I was very pleased with this re-signing because McFadden is still a young player at only 26 years old. In addition although I like many of you did not take kindly to the initially reported number of 4 million dollars for 1 year, when you read all the details of McFadden’s contract and realize how NFL contracts work, then it is a sound contract. Here is why it is a sound contract; McFadden is not making 4 million that is just the highest possible amount he can earn on this contract. McFadden is only guaranteed 100K on this 4 million dollar contract which then goes to say that McFadden is gambling on himself this season. If he fails then it was a small gamble by McKenzie, but if this contract does serve to drive McFadden and he earns his 4 million then the Raiders will have made quite the signing.
Usama Young: Although Young was solid last season as a safety for the Raiders; I do not think that re-signing him was the best option for the Raiders. Now allow me to explain why. Firstly Woodson whom the Raiders also brought back is 37 years old. Woodson’s age results in the Raiders needing a young safety in the waiting rather than a veteran who is 28 years old. Although Young’s contract is reasonable at 2 years and 2.34 million it was not the best option for the team.
Charles Woodson: Woodson’s contract is another great signing by McKenzie. This signing was necessary because with the losses of Veldheer and Houston the Raiders front office needed to re-sign one of our big name players. Further Woodson played with a vigor that was not reflective of his age, but served to reflect his timeless passion for the game. Because Woodson cannot play forever the Raiders must look to the future and would do well to draft a safety based on potential that can learn behind Woodson.
Pat Sims: Sims did play well last season but lacked consistency so I am hoping that this contract is incentive heavy and thus serves to drive Sims. While Sims has displayed potential I am hoping that he can take that next step and become more of an impact player.
Jared Veldheer: The fact that the Raiders were unable to re-sign one of their top free agents is disappointing and does not serve to give hope to a fan base which has endured two horrid seasons. In addition the fact that Veldheer did not buy in to McKenzie’s plan whatever that may be, and was signed for significantly less than what we offered Saffold is disheartening.
Lamarr Houston: This was another failure on part of our general manager Reggie McKenzie. By not re-signing Houston we lost a young versatile player who was just beginning to develop into a premier player. Furthermore, Houston has shown great potential not to mention that with his size the Raiders would have benefitted from keeping him as he could play either Defensive tackle or end and thrive in either position. Finally with the reasonable contract that Houston signed in Chicago I can see no reason as to why McKenzie did not re-sign him, and can accurately state that the loss of Houston is something which will haunt Oakland.
Vance Walker: Walker was a solid player with the Raiders last season but make no mistake he is by no means irreplaceable. So, the Raiders made the right call by not re-signing Walker, even if he went to a division rival he is not an impact player and can easily be replaced. Finally with Stacy McGee having flashed potential towards the end of last season perhaps McGee can become a solid contributor for the Raiders this season.
Rashad Jennings: I know Jennings stepped in and was a key offensive player for the Raiders last season, but when you look at Jennings’ career stats the realization that last season was the exception and not the rule is obvious. If you were to look up Jennings career stats over 6 seasons Jennings has gained 1,677 yds and scored 13 touchdowns rushing. But if you were to really examine Jennings’ stats then you would see Jennings scored 6 out of 13 touchdowns with the Raiders last season and rushed for a career high 733 yds last season. The Raiders will be fine without Jennings.
Tracy Porter: Porter was a great player for the Raiders and I cannot understand why he was not brought back although I do think we have gotten stronger at corner I do think we should have re-signed him as he has been very productive when paired with Dennis Allen.
Mike Jenkins: This is a player who despite his having played tolerable for the Raiders last season will not be missed. Although Jenkins was rather effective on a performance based contract the Raiders did not re-sign Jenkins with good reason and that reason would probably be the fact that Jenkins has been wildly inconsistent and displayed a lack of passion on the football field far too often. So while it was reasonable to sign Jenkins on a small prove it contract, it was not reasonable for the Raiders to re-sign Jenkins long term with what would likely include more guaranteed money.
Rodger Saffold: Yes I am going to address this even though it was quite the mess. This was quite the mess first McKenzie lets Hulk walk, then Hulk’s replacement an injury prone offensive lineman who has struggled at both tackle and guard is signed to an enormous contract with way too much guaranteed money. Then as if that were not enough of a whirlwind affair Saffold fails his physical, which some have called buyer’s remorse. Here is why after all this time I am going to speak on this move. This move could be seen as failure on many levels not only did it serve to depict the Raiders as dysfunctional, but this move also served to cast a negative shadow over the rebuilding Raiders once again. This move was a public-relations nightmare and may have resulted in the Raiders in-ability to sign any of the many top free agents.
Austin Howard: Howard is a solid offensive lineman and is a great combination of size and toughness. At 27 years old on a 5 year 30 million dollar contract he will prove to be a steady force on the Raiders offensive line. In the last two seasons Howard started all 32 games for the Jets this gives the Raiders a consistent lineman something which they have not had in quite some time with the exceptions of Hulk and Wisniewski. Although the Raiders offensive line will not be the same with the loss of Hulk it will improve with the addition of Howard.
Justin Tuck: Tuck is an excellent player and will contribute to the Raiders in many ways. For starters Tuck is a veteran player who has been a consistent force throughout his career, further this Tuck unlike the rule also does not like Brady. Okay so maybe that last reason was not the best possible reason, but the veteran leadership that Tuck can provide in Oakland will be invaluable. If you don’t agree you only need look at our secondary’s improvement since we brought back Woodson. Veteran players like Tuck are key to not only helping to change the culture in Oakland, but players of Tuck’s caliber are also key in the success of the young players a franchise develops. Overall this signing was an impressive coup.
Lamarr Woodley: Woodley is a big name, but he is not a big player. Woodley has declined and no longer plays with the passion he played with in his first few NFL seasons. To be frank Woodley has gotten lazy since the Steelers re-signed him, this eventually resulted in that organization releasing him this season. Now if you don’t take his rookie year into account and look at his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons Woodley was a dominant player racking up numerous tackles, while seemingly mastering the art of sacking the quarterback with a total of 35 sacks over that time. But when you look at Woodley in the last two seasons he has only achieved 9 sacks. While 9 sacks over two seasons might not be too bad when one considers that Woodley prior to 2012 averaged almost 10 sacks a season that is a drastic decline. So while I hope Woodley can revive his career and become the dominant defensive player he once was I am hesitant about this signing.
Tarrell Brown: Brown at 29 is nearing the end of his career but he unlike Woodley is coming off of two great seasons in San Francisco and can definitely improve the Raiders secondary. This is a sweet signing. The fact that McKenzie was able to steal Brown away from the Niners is icing on the cake. Finally with Brown only signed for one year if he is not the same player he was behind the Niners good pass rush then there is not a big loss, and if he does start to decline we are not committed to him long term.
Antonio Smith: Smith is a versatile player who I think will be able to play either defensive tackle or end for the Raiders. At 289 pounds Smith has the size to move inside, but he can also play outside as he has done for much of his career. At 32 years old I am unsure of how much football Smith has left, but on the bright side he is coming off of a good year so hopefully he continues to play at a high level.
James Jones: Jones has to be by far the Raiders best signing this offseason he has been a steadfast in Greenbay with Aaron Rodgers and will bolster the Raiders offensively. While I do think that Streater will develop into the Raiders top receiver this season. Jones will be the consistent receiver the Raiders have lacked for so long. Now Matt Schuab has been talked about as our starting quarterback but at 32 if he is truly beginning to decline, or if he goes down with injury then McGloin or possible a rookie QB will need a player to step in and become a go to guy Jones is that go to guy who will make the tough catches. Finally on a 3 year 11.3 million dollar contract he provides a big upgrade offensively without costing the Raiders an arm and a leg.
Kevin Boothe: Boothe was not the best player at the start of his career, but Boothe is coming off of 2 consistent seasons where he suited up for all 32 games and at very least can provide depth for the Raiders at guard.
Donald Penn: This is a great signing for the Raiders with Penn having earned a pro-bowl nod in 2011 he will be able to instantly improve the Raiders offensive line. Although he is nearing the end of his career he has been a consistent player in Tampa Bay and will be a consistent player for Oakland. Penn instantly improves a dreadful Raiders offensive line.
Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD provides a veteran RB who can run the ball effectively if McFadden goes down with injury this season. While MJD did not have a good season last year I think that he will provide an excellent 1-2 punch with McFadden furthermore both running backs will benefit from sharing the load.
CJ Wilson: Wilson is a depth signing with Tuck, Woodley and Smith I doubt he will contribute much.
Carlos Rodgers: Rodgers has been a great corner for the Niners and I think this player may haunt them as he will give the Raiders valuable insight on his old team. Furthermore Rodgers gives Hayden another veteran mentor to help our 1st round draft pick continue to improve. Finally Rodgers was one of the best nickel corners in the NFL last season and will shore up the Raider’s secondary.
Matt Schuab: I for one am not on board with this trade, here’s why if you watched Schuab at all last year regardless of how painful the experience might have been you would realize that his confidence as a quarterback is gone, his arm strength which was not the strongest to begin with has declined. This leads me to conclude that Schuab is done as a QB but on the bright side if this experiment fails the Raiders will have only lost a sixth round draft pick.
Terrelle Pryor: Are the Raiders the real winners in this deal? Even though Oakland gained a 7th round draft pick by trading Pryor they lost much more. Pryor although inconsistent was electrifying he served to excite a fan base that had little to believe in. Pryor served as a beautiful dream of what could be depicting flashes of brilliance against some great teams. But now he is gone and the Raiders have replaced the brilliant youth with the time tested veteran QB who shamed a fan base last season. Perhaps this move is one that the Raiders will regret if Pryor develops into a franchise quarterback like Al Davis envisioned.