After approaching the first wave of free agency aggressively, the Oakland Raiders have taken a more laid back approach ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Before the tampering period even started, Oakland traded for former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and made him the highest paid player at his position. They didn’t stop there, once they were able to legally talk to potential signees, they signed left tackle Trent Brown to a blockbuster contract, lured safety Lamarcus Joyner into joining the Raiders, added a field stretcher in wide reciever Tyrell Williams and re-signed core contributors Erik Harris and Jonathan Hankins.
They Raiders could have continued their stride and pursue former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall or former Chiefs pass-rusher Justin Houston and even safety George Iloka. Instead, they decided to add depth with the likes of lineman Jordan Davey, cornerback Nevin Lawson, wide receiver J.J. Nelson and quarterback Mike Glennon.
Davey, Lawson and Glennon aren’t household names and there’s definitely no coordinator that would lose their sleep by game planning against them and that’s fine. They are not expected to play key roles in 2019 and in instead, are with the team to provide depth not to supplant the projected starters.
It could be argued that Oakland could’ve re-signed cornerback Rashaan Melvin over Lawson. Davey was chosen over fan favorite Jon Feliciano, who ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills and Glennon will take over the subpar pair of quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman.
In the same manner, it could be argued that former Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson still had something left in the tank and the team downgraded the position after signing J.J. Nelson, but the latter is younger and cheaper than the former. Simply said, the younger Nelson has a bigger upside than his veteran counterpart.
I haven’t mentioned linebacker Vontaze Burfict and that’s for a reason. He has a history of concussions and suspensions, anything Oakland gets from him is a bonus and that is the theme with all these players signed last week. The Raiders aren’t expecting impact contributions from them as they are getting ready for the draft.
Because of how aggressive Oakland was in the first wave of free agency, it might be easy to forget that the players the team acquires in the draft will be even more meaningful that any signing they made in the offseason.
The draft will supply the team with difference makers and the first wave of free agency complements the vision the Raiders have. Anything in between is just a plus.