Are The Raiders Done With Free Agency?

Jun 15, 2016; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2016; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders have had a quiet free agency. With the draft just two weeks away, are they done signing players?

With less than 20 days until the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the list of available free agents continues to dwindle. Have Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders closed the book on their offseason signings, or might they still make a few moves?

Let’s first recap the work that has been done, which will tell us what work still needs to be done.

The Raiders entered the offseason with needs at a couple of positions on offense, but in need of help at virtually every position on defense. Up to this point, they’ve lost more players than they have added. But in the case of several of those players, that isn’t a bad thing.

On offense, Matt McGloin, Latavius Murray, Andre Holmes, Menelik Watson and Mychal Rivera are gone. McKenzie quickly replaced four of the five by bringing in E.J. Manuel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Marshall Newhouse and Jared Cook. So out of those positions, only running back remains a need.

On defense, Stacy McGee, Malcolm Smith, D.J. Hayden, Brynden Trawick, Daren Bates and Nate Allen are gone. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins has been brought in, but on the defensive side of the ball, that’s the only addition that has been made.

The Raiders had been linked to Zach Brown, but after a lengthy stay on the open market, he signed a bargain deal in Washington. Other than that, it’s been quiet out of Oakland. Except for Marshawn Lynch, of course.

So with the last free agent signing taking place on March 20, is it safe to say the Raiders are done with free agency? Barring a surprise, the answer to that question is yes.

For one, the free agent market has dwindled. More than a month since free agency began, the majority of the notable names have found new employers. Johnathan Hankins is the top available free agent still out there, and while Oakland has been linked to him, his asking price is presumably too high for Reggie McKenzie, as well as other GM’s across the league.

Perhaps McKenzie could scour the market and find some depth, but with the draft about two weeks away, that’s the focus. Rumor of the Raiders taking prospect visits are ramping up, with Kevin King and Damore’ea Stringfellow coming in, among others.

That may be disappointing to some fans — that the free agency period was spent adding to an already strong offense rather than fixing a weak defense. But Raider Nation will have to trust that there is a method to the madness, and that McKenzie can find some talent defensively in the draft.

The other thing that needs to be considered here is cap room. While roughly $31 million in cap space sounds like quite a bit of cash, that is about what the combined first-year cap hit will be with Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson’s contract extensions. Throw in another $5 million or so for the draft, and McKenzie actually has to cut some players to make room financially — the safe money is on one of those players being Dan Williams.

So yes, it’s been a quiet free agency period. But that should have been the expectation to begin with. And that’s not even hindsight — we outlined and detailed that several times here. This was not going to be a repeat of the prior offseason, which saw the additions of Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith and Bruce Irivn.

But that’s okay. Building through free agency is not the formula to field a winning product — just ask the Jaguars. Or just about any other team in the last decade that has spent big money in the offseason in hopes of short-cutting their way to a Super Bowl.

Must Read: JBB's Raiders Mailbag

The Raiders got to 12-4 in 2016 by doing things the right way. And McKenzie earned an Executive of the Year award as a result. So forget about free agency — it’s almost draft day.