December 21, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie (left) and owner Mark Davis (right) before the game against the Buffalo Bills at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
As the end of the league year approaches and coaching staffs are beginning to materialize around the league, many GM’s are looking forward to the free agency signing period in March in order to re-stock and re-shuffle their rosters to put the best product possible on the field for 2015. The Raiders have often been busy in free agency, dating back to the days even before free agency was cool.
In his tenure, however, Raider GM Reggie McKenzie has approached free agency differently than his predecessor, longtime Raider owner and “Managing General Partner” Al Davis. Davis loved to make a big splash in free agency, spending money on big name veterans often nearing the end of their careers. This strategy worked sometimes, and failed spectacularly in other times.
After all, it was a bunch of veteran free agents like Rich Gannon, Charlie Garner, Bill Romanowski and Rod Woodson who helped the Raiders get to the Super Bowl in 2002. And it was also veteran free agents like Warren Sapp and Javon Walker who ate up massive amounts of cap space and stunted the Raiders rebuilding efforts for over a decade.
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McKenzie, on the other hand, has shown that free agency is not his preferred method of team building. He prefers to use the draft, while free agency is used to acquire place-holders and role-players. Before the 2014 offseason, he was heavily criticized for letting young talent like Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer walk while acquiring aging players like Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, LaMarr Woodley and James Jones, who he could acquire on short-term deals without a lot of guaranteed money. He also essentially backed out on a deal for the high-priced Roger Saffold, and chose to invest instead in Austin Howard and Donald Penn.
His highest-profile signing may have been in wide receiver James Jones, whom he was familiar with from his time in Green Bay. Jones, who was signed to a three-year, $11.3M deal that only contained $3.7M in guaranteed money, led the team in receptions this past year.
So with McKenzie’s low-frills free agency pattern in mind, here are a few scenarios that I, myself, the author of this article, believe could be possible for the Oakland Raiders in the 2015 free agency open market:
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