Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Everybody Chill Out


Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie (left) at press conference at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With reports coming like body blows that multiple top free agency targets – or at least fan favorites are making deals with other teams, Raider fans and media are beginning to panic. Already, people on twitter are discussing how California state tax, or the poor condition of the Coliseum, or the organization in general are keeping big-name free agents from wanting to sign with the Raiders, who have more money to spend than anyone. But fear, not, Raider fans: now is not the time for panic.

First of all, the only deals that can actually be finalized right now during the “legal tampering” period are with existing teams. So while Randall Cobb is off the board, as is Jerry Hughes, probably, many players are still completely in play, including Ndamukong Suh, Jeremy Maclin, Torrey Smith, Byron Maxwell and others. Reggie McKenzie could, if he wishes, pull a late rally and outbid one of these so-called “done deals” before the signing period begins at 4PM ET on Tuesday.

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Secondly, even if we assume all these deals are going to go through, we should be happy that our franchise has not been baited into overpaying for players. Ndamukong Suh’s massive supposed Miami contract would have probably cost the Raiders $65M against the cap over the next three seasons – which is more than Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers and Tom Brady are costing their respective teams. Byron Maxwell is apparently going to Philly for nearly Darrelle Revis money, and Byron Maxwell has never been more than a 2nd cornerback in his brief career.

Third, there is still plenty of available talent. Chiefs center Rodney Hudson, apparently a top target for the Raiders, is still in play, as is 49ers guard Mike Iupati and a number of other quality offensive guards (though my personal favorite, Orlando Franklin, may be signing elsewhere). With Suh apparently heading to Miami, Jared Odrick is out of a job, and Terrance Knighton wants to play for Jack Del Rio again and the two of them combined with Antonio Smith and Justin Ellis is about as deep a defensive tackle rotation as you’ll find in the NFL.

Safeties Rahim Moore and Da’Norris Searcy are also still available, as is Antonio Cromartie and a number of other capable veteran corners, and Devin McCourty hasn’t put his name on a deal yet either. Brian Orakpo and Brandon Graham are still unspoken for, as are middle linebackers Mason Foster and Nate Irving. No one has apparently “signed” CJ Spiller or Roy Helu or any other running back. Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Cameron are still also not linked to any “done deals,” though it seems the Raiders have lost interest in Julius Thomas – if they ever had any.

Reggie McKenzie is not Al Davis, nor is he Chip Kelly or Stephen Ross. He wants to build a long-term competitor through the draft and use free agency to add nice supplemental pieces. The draft still has loads of talent in it, and won’t take place for another seven weeks. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of free agents out there who McKenzie can sign without putting the team into trouble in three years when key drafted players like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack will be due big second contracts. Fear not.