Why the Oakland Raiders Can’t Land High Profile Players


Prior to Free Agency starting, everyone in the football world was either expecting, or hoping the Raiders would make some huge splashes. Names like Suh, Cobb, Knighton, Revis, etc. kept popping up as players who could/should be Raiders in 2015. With an exceptional amount of cap space, the Raiders certainly had the money to make the big time splashes; or did they?

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One of the most important pieces to a big time Free Agency signing is the guaranteed money. Hypothetically speaking, a player may sign a $120 million deal, and actually earn less than a player who signed a $60 million deal because the total amount of the contract doesn’t necessarily reflect how much of the contract is guaranteed.

The current salary cap space only covers the players’ first year salary, and any bonuses the player may earn that season. It usually takes a number of seasons for a player to earn all the guaranteed money from his contract, after the player earns all the guaranteed money from the contract, his job security is at risk.

From a player stand point, the guaranteed money is all that REALLY matters. You can’t blame them for that, each snap an NFL player takes could be their last.  Just look at Nick Roach. This is especially true with players coming off of a low paying rookie contract who are looking for their first big time pay day. Imagine getting a 1000% raise by simply signing you name on a line.

From an agent point of view, they want the overall number to look bigger and more impressive so they can recruit more clients. When a player is in the news signing a mega deal, it’ll drive more clients to that agent or agency.

So, how does all this effect a team being able to sign a player? It is a simple matter of insurance. The guaranteed money is just that, guaranteed. The organization who offers the player the contract must pay the guaranteed money, unless the player violates a term in the contract. In order to insure the money is available to be paid to the player, the owner of the organization must place the total sum of guaranteed money into an escrow account until it is paid off.

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For many of the NFL owners, this isn’t a very big problem. In the case of Mark Davis, he is the “least wealthy” of all NFL owners, with a net worth of around $500 million. To the average middle class man like myself, that’s a mind boggling amount of money. To an NFL owner, it is a handicap when it comes to securing big name Free Agents.

Take Ndamukong Suh’s contract he signed with the Doliphins where he is guaranteed around $60 million. That’s 12% of Mark Davis’ entire net worth. Remember now, net worth isn’t the amount of money he has in the bank, it is how much everything he owns is worth. If the Raiders were to sign a player like that, Mr. Davis wouldn’t have enough money to set aside for the rest of the team’s guaranteed money. So, when reports come out that the Raiders made an offer of more money to a player who chose to go to another team, it probably means they made an offer with higher potential and less guaranteed money.

Add the inability to guarantee top dollar contracts to the other, well documented challenges Reggie faces as the GM of the Raiders and I’d say he has had stellar success in Free Agency this year. He was able to sign young, highly talented players on both the offensive and defensive lines who can act as cornerstones of the franchise for years to come, along with some much needed versatility and depth to fill other major needs. Big names may be out of the Raiders reach, but for the time being Davis along with the front office are trying to do their best with limited resources at hand.