Re-signing Justin Ellis and inking special teamer and reserve wide receiver Griff Whalen unsurprisingly set Raider Nation aflame with unbridled fury when NFL free agency opened last week.
But at week’s end, the Oakland Raiders added 14 players to the roster while jettisoning three. Oakland wasn’t going to be a big player in a high-priced roll of the dice that is “wave one” of free agency.
While other squads were milking the big-name tree, the Raiders went forth with a calculated and methodical approach — one that still sticks in many fans’ craws.
Sure, they had their sights on Tier 1 players, but Tier 2 and beyond were the intended targets. And general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Jon Gruden hit the mark.
Money that would have been spent for one lone Tier 1 free agent was used on a variety of players.
The Raiders got starters at wide receiver (former Packer Jordy Nelson), linebacker (former Lion Tahir Whitehead), cornerback (former Colt Rashaan Melvin) and long snapper (former Bear Andrew DePoala). The team also nabbed prospective starters in Lee Smith (re-signed, tight end), Keith Smith (fullback, Cowboys) and Marcus Gilchrist (safety, Texans).
Gruden made the Raiders roster his with the quickness, no?
Let’s run the Quick Slants just as fast:
- Curious as to how the dynamic between high-profile (and expensive) head coach and trusty general manager would work in Alameda? Gruden tells McKenzie what he wants and the latter negotiates the deals.
- Cordarrelle Patterson was traded to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick. Yes, the Raiders had to also send a 6th rounder to New England. Gruden saw CP as nothing more than an expensive return man.
- It would appear Bruce Irvin is moving to defensive end or is going to be an edge linebacker who rushes the quarterback every snap. Excellent. Gruden said he sees Irvin as an edge rusher.
- Whitehead can play all three linebacker spots. If the Raiders can’t re-up NaVorro Bowman, do not be surprised if the former Lion is the starter at Mike.
- The best case scenario is Bowman returns the Oakland and shores up middle linebacker allowing Whitehead to play at OLB.
- Jettisoning Michael Crabtree and adding Nelson … Gruden wasn’t being facetious when he said Amari Cooper would be the featured receiver on offense.
- Free-agent addition Derek Carrier profiles as a move tight end. The former wide receiver has the wheels and athleticism but is categorized as a “blocking tight end”. That designation should only be applied to Smith (Beard Mode).
- Gilchrist can start at safety in a pinch. He also has the ability to drop down and play cornerback. Yet, I’d like to see Karl Joseph (free safety) and Obi Melifonwu (strong safety) as starters.
- The 1-year prove-it deal Melvin inked with the Raiders is perfect for both player and team. Go out and show the league you are a shutdown corner and earn a fat payday next off-season.
- Wide receiver Ryan Grant is next up on the free-agent visits list. The former Redskin got done dirty by the Ravens if you ask me. The two agreed to a $24 million deal only for a failed physical (ankle) scuttling the contract. Baltimore ended up signing the recently-released Crabtree instead.
- The signings shouldn’t preclude McKenzie and Gruden from reinforcing positions. However, the additions do allow Oakland to go “best player available” (BPA) in round 1 of April’s draft.
- Interesting to see the Raiders ink punter Colby Wadman. The UC Davis product likely gives embedded starter Marquette King someone to chat with during camp. But isn’t that what we thought of King when he came into camp to compete with Shane Lechler?
- FYI: King is due $2.9 million in base salary this coming season.
- Gruden stressed competition at every position. Wondering if the Raiders bring in another kicker (draft, post-draft free agency) at some point. Wondering if Wadman holds for right-footed kickers …