The Raiders careful approach to this offseason has been celebrated by just about every NFL analyst and reporter in the biz. Even by those that usually have nothing but negative things to say about the organization. It is well documented at this point how smart it was to lock down Chris Johnson, Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler along with plenty of other Raider free agents whether restricted or unrestricted.
There have been only two notable outside additions to the team and both were at offensive tackle– one of the positions on this team in the most desperate need of an upgrade. Former starter, OT Eric Pears, was signed away from Denver for his familiarity with the zone blocking scheme. Then, of course there was OT Khalif Barnes who can play either tackle position and will compete to start on either side.
So with offensive tackle well taken care of, the focus can turn to how to upgrade the other positions that need some help. The draft has exciting prospects in it but before April 25th rolls around there can still be some help brought in to start, add depth or simply inject some competition.
Those positions are defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and defensive end. Here is the best of what is still out there to be had at these positions:
Tank Johnson, UFA, Cowboys
I mentioned Tank Johnson very early on in my “Raiders have questions, we’ve got answers: Dline” article. He is still out there and would still be a great pick up.
Here is snippet of what I said in the previous article: “He would be promised a legitimate shot to start for the Raiders and resurrect his career. Up until he got into trouble, he had become one of the most coveted Defensive Tackles in the league. He’d been in the league three seasons and was one of the key pieces in the Bears stingy 06 run defense that helped take them to the Superbowl.”
Kedric Golston, RFA, Redskins
Another player I mentioned in my “Raiders have questions, we’ve got answers: Dline” article was Kedric Golston. Since then, the Redskins did just what I thought they would do in regards to slapping a tender on him: they haven’t. So he is there for the taking. Here is a snippet of what I said in the previous article:
“In his 13 career starts, Golston has totaled 53 tackles (31 solo), 0.5 sacks and four passes defensed. He was a rotational nose tackle for the Redskins and would probably start consistently for the Raiders. He just had ankle surgery but it’s not much of a concern.”
Shaun Cody, UFA, Lions
Cody would really only offer some quality depth behind Tommy Kelly (or whomever starts at UT next season). He has only visited one team thus far in the Saints and left without a contract offer. He would be a guy that hopefully would offer a better option than William Joseph in spot duties.**
**UPDATE: Shaun Cody was signed by the Houston Texans on Monday Mar 23rd
Freddie Keiaho, UFA, Colts
I am really surprised Keiaho is still available. He is an outside linebacker that had 105 tackles last season which is pretty damn good. He has gotten steadily better in each of his three seasons after starting no games as a rookie, 11 in 07 (with 81 tackles) and 14 in 08. Hopefully the reason he is still out there is not because his asking price is unreasonable. Al Davis has proven that this will NOT be an off-season of big contracts. Keiaho played along side Kirk Morrison at San Diego State. In fact, after Morrison led the Aztecs in tackles in 04 and went on to the NFL, Keiaho took over for him at middle linebacker for SDSU in 05 and promptly led the team in tackles as well. I wonder if he would welcome the opportunity to reunite with his former teammate. That would be fun to see I think.
Keith Davis, UFA, Cowboys
If his name sounds familiar it is because I just mentioned him in the last “The Raiders have questions, blah blah blah: Safety” That was four days ago and he is still out there. Here is a snippet of what I said about him in the article:
“Davis filled in for Pro Bowler Roy Williams last season in Dallas and is described by various scouting services as a special teams hit who can play the run. While the Raiders may already have a player in Hiram Eugene that does the exact same thing, injecting some competition and depth in that area can only be a a good thing. The Raiders made a run at him in free agency last year but he signed with the Dolphins — only to get cut and re-signed by the Cowboys. So it stands to reason that there is still some interest in aquiring Davis especially with the Raiders being even more thin at safety this season than they were last season.”
Roy Williams, Cut, Cowboys
Yeah I know. The only two safeties were the former starter and the guy who replaced him. It seems weird really. Says a lot about how the rest of the NFL thinks of the Cowboys safety play. There is said to be some marginal interest from the Raiders despite Cable saying he likes Tyvon Branch at strong safety. So until we see good ole “Horse Collar Roy” sitting in a press conference we have to assume that there is a chance he could sign with the Raiders.
Drew Bennett, Cut, Rams
East Bay native, solid 8 yr veteran, cut by Rams after two injury plagued seasons. 1,247 yard receiving in 04 with Titans
Mike Furrey, Cut, Lions
98 catches for over a thousand yards two seasons ago
DJ Hackett, Cut, Panthers
Marginal receiver signed by Panthers just last season and never broke out for them.
Marvin Harrison, Cut, Colts
Second all time in receptions. Set for huge bonus, cap casualty.
Ike Hilliard, Cut, Buccaneers
Reaching end of career but can still contribute
Tory Holt, Cut, Rams
Is slowing down but still has game breaking abilities. Released in Rams rebuilding effort.
Shaun McDonald, UFA, Lions
Just a year removed from near thousand yard season. Speedy, reliable receiver.
Amani Toomer, UFA, Giants
Reaching end of career but can still contribute.
Roydell Williams, UFA, Titans
3 yrs in league, had best year in 08 with 719 yds receiving.
Phillip Daniels, UFA, Redskins
Was offered a minimum contract with the ’skins and initially turned it down. But after not garnering much interest on the market he is said to be reconsidering signing the deal. Until that happens, he is fair game. And if it would take just slightly over the minimum to get him, that would be worth it.
Kalimba Edwards, UFA, Raiders
That’s right I said it. As long as Edwards is still out there, he could return. He played quite well at times last season and I would love to have him back. The word is that he failed a physical and was released but we all know it has to be more than that. He was a cap casualty more than anything so after some time not feeling the free agent love he could opt to return for a more cap friendly deal.
Kenechi Udeze, UFA, Vikings
Was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007. The cancer is in remission and if he feels ready to return to the NFL, I would love to see the Raiders take a chance on him.
Ebenezer Ekuban, UFA, Broncos
Will be entering his eleventh year in the league and while that may be getting a bit long in the tooth, he seems to have some left in the tank. He started the last 10 games of last season and matched the Raiders team lead in sacks in that time (5). He visited the Raiders on Friday so there is clearly some interest in his services.
So, the market is thinning out but obviously, as you can see, there is still some quality to be had. The “wait and see” approach has been paying off so far for the Raiders, and now I think it is time to reap those benefits and sign some of these guys. Free agency has been in full swing for about a month now. I can’t imagine these players feel too comfortable not being shown much interest and therefore still are without an NFL roster to call home.
Last offseason in a high stakes game of poker, the Raiders were playing “Go Fish”. So far this offseason Mr Davis has done a fine job of not tipping his hand and keeping his poker face. Khalif Barnes tried to bluff until he realized the Raiders were holding all the cards. Now it’s time for Al to go all in and lay the cards on the table. Let’s see what the Raiders can pull from the deck.