The Oakland Raiders packed up their 2011 first round draft choice back in 2009 -- just days before the season opening game -- and sent it to New England in exchange for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour. Most of the Raider Nation has no argument about keeping Richard Seymour for a few more years and letting the Patriots have the draft pick the Raiders would have undoubtedly fumbled. But have no fear, for the lack of a Raider first round draft choice in 2011 will leave Al Davis free to snag a big fish from this year's list of free agents, a player with first round caliber talent and a lot of gas left in the tank.
No mega rookie contract to sign this year leaves all eyes on a very talented class of free agents. So let's get our hands dirty taking a good hard look at all who I think the Raiders should acquire -- in no particular order.
Baltimore Ravens OT – Jared Gaither
Here's a guy who the fans have been clamoring for since the arrival of Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator. Gaither is reportedly disgruntled with his former club for making him give up the starting left tackle spot to newcomer, Michael Oher, as well as the team's inability to extend his contract before last season.
Gaither will be 26 years old this season and arguably his best years are ahead of him, however, he did miss the entire 2010 season with a back injury. That could be a serious deal, or it could be just the man's way of taking the year off. Either way, with what the Raiders have for offensive tackles on their roster, I'd take a flier on this 6'9" 340 pound monster.
New England Patriots OG – Logan Mankins
Mankins will turn 27 in March and is entering the prime of his career after being battle trained by one of the best coaching staffs in the league. He was drafted with the 32nd pick of the 2005 draft and despite playing his entire collegiate career as a tackle, Mankins was moved to left guard, where he immediately stepped into the starting lineup in place of Joe Andruzzi, who departed in free agency. Mankins is also reportedly angry with his former team.
Basically, what happened was the Patriots tendered him a first- and third-round RFA contract worth $3.26 million. But Mankins wanted a long term deal. On June 15, with Mankins yet to sign the tender, the Patriots were able to lower Mankins' tender amount to 110% of his prior year salary, or $1.54 million. The Patriots did so, and Mankins reacted by publicly by asking for a trade. Now the man is unrestricted, and I bet California is looking a lot better than cold Massachusetts right about now.
San Diego Chargers Wide Receiver – Vincent Jackson
Call it bittersweet, but there is something about taking a 6'5" 230-plus pound wide receiver who runs a 4.46 forty in the prime of his career away from a divisional rival like San Diego. Jackson made Philip Rivers look awesome just a couple of years ago. This guy is a freak and Al Davis loves freaks of nature.
Amazingly enough, Jackson hasn't had a season with more than 68 catches, but he is a nightmare for defenses as a deep threat. Dude averaged 17.2 yards per catch in his five year career with the Dolts. He posted back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2008 and 2009 and went to Hawaii as a Pro Bowler. And then the San Diego Chargers dumped on him. Long story short (basically the same as Mankins), on October 29, 2010, Jackson ended his hold-out and signed a one-year tender for $583,000. The deadline to sign and accrue a full season, so that he would be an unrestricted free agent in 2011, was October 30, 2010. But Jackson didn't see much field time with the team in 2010 and it's looking as though his time with the Chargers has ended.
Washington Redskins Outside Linebacker – Rocky McIntosh
Want an indication that the Raiders are going to remain a 4-3 defense with a 4-3 line coach and a 4-3 linebackers coach? Well if they are, this guy could be a Raider in 2011. McIntosh was taken 35th overall in 2006 by Washington. In 2007, McIntosh set career highs in tackles (105), sacks (3), and forced fumbles (3). On December 16, 2007, McIntosh tore both the ACL and MCL ligaments in a 22-10 victory over the New York Giants after bending his knee awkwardly in a pile in the first quarter.
In 2008, after being put on injured reserve the previous season, McIntosh recorded 87 tackles, two sacks, an interception, and two forced fumbles. In 2009, McIntosh finished the season with 94 tackles (64 solo), two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. In 2010, McIntosh, much like teammate Albert Haynesworth, didn't fit the Redskins new 3-4 defense... go figure.
Minnesota Vikings Outside Linebacker – Chad Greenway
Greenway will be another indication that the Raiders are sticking to the 4-3 scheme. Greenway was a first round pick by the Vikings (17th in 2006) and fits well in the scheme for newly appointed Head Coach Leslie Fraiser. There is no indication that Greenway wants to leave or that the Vikings will let him leave. But hands down money talks; if Al Davis wants him enough, he'll be an Oakland Raider in 2011.
This guy was everywhere on the field this year for Minnesota with his 145 tackles. So far, in four years with the Vikings, he has 353 solo tackles, 6.5 sacks, and five interceptions. Imagine what he could do in Oakland, where he isn't the only good player on defense. Minnesota could stick its franchise tag on Greenway, but that would mean Sidney Rice is an unrestricted free agent. Don't even get me started on Sidney Rice; he's sick. One way or another, both of these guys are going to get large amounts of money from someone in 2011.
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Also see TFDS Contributor Jeff Little's take on free agents the Raiders need to Pursue
Any talk of free agent signings has to start with keeping our own guys. Seymour especially since we gave a first rounder for him. Aso because he is the heart and soul not to mention center piece of the defense. But also other guys like Gallery and Bush who have worked hard to help us get to this point and produced on the field. The list goes on but in all there are about 10 guys that are free agents now, that need to be retained before we start looking at bringing in other people.
Great list of free agents the Raiders should look at. With the new power blocking scheme being established in Oakland, I would definitely pursue Logan Mankins and Jared Gaither. Adding these two guys to the offensive line would be huge, and if we can successfully resign Robert Gallery, the Raiders will have a dominant offensive line. It would be expensive, but the end result would be well worth it, and Jason Campbell's numbers would elevate big time.
The final piece of the free agent puzzle would be to sign Vincent Jackson, the prolific wide receiver from San Diego, whose numbers, in my opinion, are very impressive considering the way Phillip Rivers spreads the offense around. Yes, there are other receivers available, but none of them have the freakish talent that Jackson has, and combined with incredible hands and amazing route running ability, he is head and shoulders above the rest. Jackson will be available and Al Davis has to pay the man what it takes to make him a Raider.
If we are to be playing a 3-4 then the biggest missing piece we would have could have just become available in NT Shaun Rodgers from the Browns.
Some other potential Free Agent WRs that may be available include Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Steve Smith (both Giants and Panthers), Malcolm Floyd (a poor man's Vincent Jackson), James Jones, and Steve Breaston. Potential Free Agent LBs we could also target are David Harris, Tamba Hali and a personal favorite of mine Paul Posluszny. Oh plus Kirk Morrison could be available!
Also, if we are going to be playing more two TE sets I wouldn't mind seeing us going after a TE like David Thomas, Kevin Boss or Desmond Clarke.
@DARKKUSH Not to mention the possibility of Haloti Ngata being a possible Free Agent (although very unlikely to happen). A couple other big NT that could be available are Paul Soliai from the Dolphins and Aubrayo Franklin from the 49ers. If we stick to the 4-3 and are looking for more depth at DT we could also go after Barry Cofield (Waufle is very familiar with him from their Giants days), Brandon Mebane, Pat Williams and Cullen Jenkins. And what's better is that these guys are all known for their run stuffing ability.
@nilbymouth we dont have to play a 3-4 to snag Rodgers. he can replace Henderson in the middle on running downs at very least.
Raiders need to sign Rodgers like now! he's a big of a problem child and a whiner, so sign him to a 1 year deal with good incentives. If he acts up, cut him loose. win-win. Rodgers, Seymour, and Kelly? that's a freakin machine right there. holy crap.
i was going to say about Moss, he's a great insurance policy should Schilens not be able to stay healthy... which is more than likely unfortunately.
Good stuff Bret.
Getting ANY 2 of these guys would put the Raiders in the playoffs.
If we can resign our core guys... seymour, aso, miller and even Bush ... and let certain guys go like Gallery... which i could live with ... i'm confident Al could pull of snagging 2 of these players. Mankins would be top priority of Gallery leaves. CHEERS TO THAT! we would actually get a guy that can stay healthy for more than 8 games... HOOR YAY!
VJax will take a lot of doe too... but maybe he'll take a good size contract with loads of incentives that Al could bring to the table.. plus a chance to play SD twice a year could be intriguing. my guess is that he will go to the highest bidder... someone like the dolphins come to mind as to who would pay the most.
Gaither could be a steal too man. He really can't command that much doe seeing as he was "hurt" all year. Al can give him a similiar contract that Kwame Harris got to make him happy. if he stays healthy, then he'll get the big boy contract and be a cornerstone LT for years to come. AT VERY LEAST, he will be true competition for Veldheer, should the kid really be a boy wonder and beat him out. my guess is he wouldn't. Veldheer belongs as a starter on this Oline, just not as LT IMO.
Greenway or McIntosh... DRUELLLL.. that'd be something speicla to have either one of those 2, McClain, and Wimbley... talk about FIERCE ... it's plausable to think that Al could be targeting these guys. I do expect the Raiders to stay 4-3 .... problem is they will both also command a sh!t load of $$$.
I want to add a player: Santana Moss
him and Campbell would have that connection right away... and he's just the veteran at the right price that could lead these young group of guys. Yea, we have a smallish burner in Ford, but who better to learn from than Santana Moss? you wont get the antics of Chris Johnson but you'll get the same type of contribution IMO. he did have better numbers than CJ on just as crappy of a team last season.