Oakland Raiders Avoid Jermaine Gresham Injury


Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

After missing out (or refusing to overpay) on Julius Thomas, the Oakland Raiders initially had a long visit with tight end Jermaine Gresham during the first days of 2015 NFL Free Agency as general manager Reggie McKenzie was having serious thoughts about bolstering the position alongside promising 2013 NFL Draft selection Mychal Rivera.

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Gresham was thought to be the second best option in free agency, a 26 year old with plenty of starter’s experience with the Cincinnati Bengals who could pair with Rivera to give the Raiders a one-two punch after rookie quarterback Derek Carr developed chemistry with the young tight end last season.

However, Gresham left Oakland without a contract after being in the Bay Area for an extended period of time. A result that surprised many who thought the Raiders would lock up the tight end after being Gresham’s first free agency period.

A good reason for Gresham not being signed by Oakland has reached the surface this week as it is now being reported that the 26 year old will be undergoing surgery for a herniated disk in his back. A serious injury that likely scared off the Raiders, who expectedly backed off their interest in Gresham upon the discovery that he would need surgery before OTA’s and 2015 Training Camp.

Last season the Raiders had a similar situation unfold with offensive lineman Rodger Saffold of the St. Louis Rams where they were much closer to signing the player before pulling back their offer once Saffold failed his physical. That proved to be a wise decision as the Rams lineman remained in St. Louis before having further injury problems and the Raiders avoided paying a player who was not 100% healthy at the time of negotiations.

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This time the Raiders were merely targeting Gresham and were less close to a deal on paper with the tight end, but avoiding a back injury is a lucky break for the Raiders. Based on last offseason’s development with Saffold it is likely they wouldn’t have passed Gresham on a physical in the first place, but nonetheless it would have been unfortunate for the team to have brought in a veteran to bolster their tight end depth only to see the player they acquired have to undergo surgery on his back days later.

As for Gresham the tight end will now unfortunately see his stock seriously drop after already being a second tier free agent. With no timetable on his return teams will likely monitor his progress until after the 2015 NFL Draft before deciding if they want to give Gresham a one year deal where he can attempt to improve on his market value to strike again in 2016 Free Agency.

A consistent 500 yard, 5 TD tight end, there will be a place in the league for Gresham if his surgery goes well. Unfortunately that place will be paying the tight end considerably less as health issues are now a serious concern with the 26 year old former Bengal. Expect the Raiders to seek a tight end in the draft now as the option of bringing in a proven producer in Gresham now looks off of the table.