Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Examining the Roster, One Week Later

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Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Rod Streater (80) celebrates after scoring on a 12-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Wide Receivers

Players lost or released: Denarius Moore, Vincent Brown

Players signed: Jeremy Gallon (future contract signed 12/30/14)

Incumbents: James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts

Probable starters: James Jones and Rod Streater

The wide receivers group has been a much-maligned group, with everyone in the sporting world identifying it over and over as a position of need, where the Raiders were expected to add a veteran free agent as well as potentially use the #4 overall pick to get better. Reggie McKenzie took a run at Randall Cobb, but Cobb opted to remain in Green Bay. With his guy off the market, Reggie has not made a real move to acquire any other wideouts in free agency.

The Raiders head toward the draft with a lot of talented young wideouts and one solid old veteran wideout on the roster, but no clear cut go-to player. Rod Streater, who was the team’s top receiver in 2013 (60 receptions, 888 yards, 4 TDs), spent most of last year injured after catching Derek Carr’s first official NFL touchdown pass. Offseason free agent acquisition James Jones led the team last year with 73 catches and six TD’s, but had a mere 9.1 yard per catch average and actually ended up second in receiving yards.

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Last year’s receiving yards leader was Andre Holmes, who had 693 yards on only 47 receptions, but he also caught the ball on less than half his targets and despite his massive size was not a reliable red zone receiver. Brice Butler looked good at times, but was only targeted 35 times last season, catching 21 passes for 280 yards and two scores. Kenbrell Thompkins, who was acquired early in the regular season after being released by the Patriots, never got involved in the Raider offense, finishing with 15 receptions. Second year man and former UDFA Seth Roberts showed sure hands in training camp last year and earned a practice squad spot, and may actually compete for a roster position this year, but is mostly an unkown quantity. Tiny Jeremy Gallon, who has never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game, will likely compete as a return man in camp, though he did put up some stellar receiving numbers at the University of Michigan.

Streater and Jones are both competent receivers, and we haven’t yet had a chance to see what a healthy Streater can do when paired with Derek Carr, while Jones is more of a known quantity. Andre Holmes and Brice Butler are prototype big receivers, but Holmes struggles to get open and hang on to contested footballs and Butler struggled just to get on the field. Thompkins is a player with a lot of promise who caught 32 passes and four TD’s from Tom Brady in 2013, but it’s not clear if he can have a role on this offense.

Right now, the Raiders have two serviceable outside receivers, with a giant question mark at the slot. Putting Streater and Holmes outside with James Jones at slot could be an option, but after failing to grab Randall Cobb, it’s very likely that Reggie McKenzie will want to improve this position group in the draft, likely with either the #4 or the #36 overall pick, in a draft that has at least a half dozen potential #1 NFL wideouts available.

Next: Raiders Roster Breakdown: Tight End