Yesterday I put together the Raider wish list for the offense. Now it is time to get defensive.
The run defense was a little better this season for the Raiders. Which isn't saying a lot considering how truly terrible it has been in recent years. But it still needs some work. The line is not complete and the line backing corps needs some tweaking, shifting, and upgrading.
There won't be a lot of free agent movement this year due to the fact that without a collective bargaining agreement, most free agents are restricted. Add to that, the fact that teams will be allowed a franchise tag and a transition tag and there could be half as many players on the market as there would be otherwise. This will also drive the price up on the remaining free agents. The result is some bloated contracts for some average players.
But, the Raiders can still hope and still wish. Here are a few of those players that will be dancing in their heads come the free agent signing period:
Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots, UFA
Wilfork has come out and said that he would not be happy if the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him. And he probably wasn't none to pleased to see his linemate Richard Seymour get traded away unexpectedly. There appears to be some serious discontent with Wilfork in New England. The Patriots have proven time and time again that their conceit causes them to let players that want a pay raise, walk or be traded. Seymour has said that he is happy with the Raiders and refused to play for the Patriots again. No doubt Seymour and Wilfork will be speaking about that soon if they haven't already. Wilfork is exactly what the Raiders need to take the place of a the sub-par play of Gerard Warren.
Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders, UFA
Sure he is already a Raider. But he is a free agent and if he weren't a Raider, could you think of a player that you would rather see them sign than Richard Seymour? If the Raiders hadn't traded for him last offseason, they would still be desperate for a stalwart defensive end who can stop the run. So they got him. We know he will be back. Now they need to make sure they keep him for a long time.
Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins- Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Tank Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, UFA
I put these two together because I had both of them on the Raiders wish list last season and I still think they should sign them. Instead, the Raiders went after Golston's teammate Ryan Boschetti. And after Cable gushed about the acquisition all off-season, he cut him prior to the season. He should have signed Golston all along and now he will have another chance. Tank Johnson may not have played spectacular for the Bengals but he will still be an upgrade. Or at very least a valuable cog in rotation.
Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
It is unlikely that the Bucs will let Ruud get away. Especially with all the cap room they have this offseason after purging their roster last year. But I must put Ruud on this list because he would be the perfect free agent pick up by the Raiders. Ruud is one of the league's best pure tacklers, has great instincts and is a tremendous leader-- all of which are desperately needed in Oakland. I also would not rule out the possibility that he could leave Tampa. There has been no movement in the direction of a long-term deal for him since the season ended so it is hard to say what the future holds.
DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans- Restricted FA (UFA-CBA)
Ruud would be rad but Ryans would be really nice too. The former rookie of the year has held down the middle linebacker spot for the Texans from his first game. He would be quite a coup for any team that could pry him away from the Texans. Money talks and Al Davis will shell it out for the right player.
Gary Brackett, Indianapolis Colts, UFA
Brackett will be looking to sign his final NFL contract this off-season. He is an unrestricted free agent after playing his entire career with the Colts. He won a Super Bowl with them and after making the big game again and losing, he could decide it's time to move on. He has his ring, now he could be looking for some bling.