AFC West Free Agency Grades, So Far
Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (91) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Key Additions: Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Donald Penn, James Jones and Matt Schaub
Key Departures: Lamar Houston, Jered Veldheer and Vance Walker
The Oakland Raiders have been the most active team in free agency, not making the splashiest moves but adding solid consistent depth. Reggie McKenzie has added proven veterans on both sides of the ball and has helped open options for them in the draft. This was the most important offseason for the Raiders in the last decade and so far they have not disappointed.
The loss of Veldheer and Houston stung for a while and if you add in the Saffold mess, RaiderNation was waiting for McKenzie to right the ship. Raiders finally made some moves signing Justin Tuck and after they signed Tuck the free agents started to roll in. Woodley and Antonio Smith signed shortly after Tuck and those three will be key in getting pressure on the QBs in the AFC West, something the Raiders have struggled at in recent years.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have made strides in improving what was a terrible O-line last season by adding Donald Penn and Austin Howard. They also added some skill players in James Jones and most recently Maurice Jones-Drew, as well as resigning Darren McFadden. Reggie made a trade to bring in the starting QB in Matt Schaub. Also with recent reports saying free agent Desean Jackson is heavily considering Oakland, this team has a chance to add a real game-changing playmaker. This Raiders’ offense has much better talent all around than the unit last season and adding Jackson would only speed up the rebuilding process.
The Raiders’ offseason has been a success so far and have built a solid foundation they can build this team around. The biggest accomplishment of free agency is filling as many holes as possible to keep the options open in the draft and not be fixated on a single position. It is a very exciting time to be a Raiders’ fan as the team is finally taking shape and looks to be very competitive next season.