Raiders Preparing To Spend Big In Free Agency

He had hoped by now he’d be using his hard-earned cap space to re-sign young “home-grown” talent. Instead, it looks like Reggie McKenzie will be emptying his budget on free agents. He has no choice. The Raiders have to spend big to reach the cap minimum and there’s essentially no one on the roster eligible for a big pay day.

The question now… where’s the money going to be spent? Keep an eye on these names and positions.

  1. Wide Receiver – The Raiders will add a premium receiver and/or another pass-catching tight end. There’s no way McKenzie will go into the draft desperate to give Derek Carr a playmaker. If he doesn’t get the franchise tag in Green Bay, I think Randall Cobb will be headed to Oakland. Reggie will have to overpay, but I don’t think he can afford not to. Maybe the Raiders try to add Torrey Smith, but I think he’ll end up back in Baltimore. Of course, there’s also Julius Thomas. His family is in the area and you know he’d like to stick it to the Broncos. And because the position is such a necessity in Oakland, keep an eye on Cecil Shorts who has sneaky upside.
  2. Defensive Tackle – My guess is that the Raiders will add either Ndamukong Suh or Terrance Knighton. They’re both 28. Jack Del Rio knows Knighton, but Suh is the crown jewel of the defensive class. Signing Suh would evaporate McKenzie’s cap space in a hurry – I’m not sure he’ll think that’s a great idea.
  3. It’s pretty clear (to me at least) that McKenzie isn’t sold on Stefen Wisniewski. The Chiefs probably won’t be able to bring back Rodney Hudson and Hudson would be an upgrade over Wisniewski (who didn’t have a great season). Yes, Wisniewski is home grown, but it’s Reggie’s job to build the best possible roster – and I’m starting think he doesn’t value “home grown” as much as advertised. Hudson is just 25 and there have been rumblings that the Raiders will look at him in free agency. Stealing a key component from a division rival? Reggie could do worse.
  4. The Raiders just released Tyvon Branch. I have a sneaky suspicion Del Rio might go after another of his former players in Rahim Moore (grew up in Los Angeles, college football at UCLA)  who led the Broncos in interceptions last year. Moore turned 25 this month and is at the top of a thin list of free agent safeties.

    Broncos fans remember Rahim Moore for this play.
  5. The Raiders will have to a add a cornerback or two and it seems like they’re tired of adding aging veterans. Keep a close eye on the 49ers’ Chris Culliver (26) and the Packers’ Davon House (25). There’s also Tramon Williams who turns 32 next month. Williams is a little long in the tooth, but McKenzie is familiar with him from his time in Green Bay.

As of now, the Raiders need to find starter-quality help at running back (unless Murray is ready to be the feature back), wide receiver, offensive guard, offensive tackle, center, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, and cornerback. So while it’s nice to have $60 million in blank checks, not many teams need to fill more holes than the Raiders.

If I had to guess, I’d expect McKenzie (and his boss) to prioritize positions that will benefit Carr. That means don’t rule out a combination like Randall Cobb and Julius Thomas in Oakland next year. And if that somehow happened, I still wouldn’t rule out Amari Cooper or Kevin White. There’s no such thing as having too many weapons.