While I believe the Oakland Raiders have a talented set of tight ends, I also think they need help at this position this offseason. With the signing of defensive end Richard Seymour and the fact they can't franchise tag cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller is looking like the player most likely to receive a franchise tag from his team. However, Miller is the Raiders' player representative to the NFLPA – a group that has taken a stance that tags "don't and won't exist" in the new CBA.
Perhaps the Raiders won't tag anybody... what then? In the meantime, here is a look at the Raiders tight ends.
Zach Miller #80:
Miller came to the Raiders via a second round pick in the 2007 NFL draft. While Miller hasn't produced big time touchdown numbers as a Raider, he has managed to lead the team in receptions and yards receiving in his first four seasons. In 62 career games, Miller has caught 226 passes, 11th best on the all-time list for the Raiders. That's almost four catches per game. Good production from a tight end is essential to an offense. Miller has proven that he is the right guy.
Now the Raiders face a situation where his rookie contract, the way it was written when he signed it, calls for him to be a restricted free agent. The Raiders would have first right of refusal to anyone who tried to sign him, and if the other team proceeded to sign said player, the original team receives draft picks from the other team in the upcoming draft to compensate.
Miller has worked with a few different coaches and a few different quarterbacks in his short career. Perhaps he is looking for more stability than Oakland offers, but I doubt it. I think he's a Raider for life and he's about to get the biggest contract in the history of tight ends from Al Davis in 2012 if he can just deal with some kind of tagging this year. With either the RFA tag or the franchise tag, Miller would make a lot more money this year than he did the first four years.
Brandon Myers #83:
Myers is not yet a quality second tight end, but he does have the potential to be. He is nowhere near as advanced in his skills as Miller was over his first two years, though Myers wasn't a second round pick either -- he was a sixth round pick. But Al Davis saw something he liked when he drafted Myers out of Iowa in the sixth round because the Raider owner made a rare trade forward to get him.
Myers has good hands and he's a big guy who blocks well. At Iowa, he helped block for Shonn Green, the talented New York Jets running back who is a former first round pick. Green ran for 1,850 yards and 20 TD's in his senior year at Iowa. Myers sealed a lot of edges for him.
Thus far, Myers hasn't been much of a factor in the Raiders' passing offense, but he helped get them to number two in the league in rushing last year. He also did an admirable job filling in for Zach Miller when he was dealing with a foot injury.
Khalif Barnes #69:
Barnes was brought in during a lot of the Raiders three tight end sets last year primarily as a blocker. I guess he was Cable's last jab at Al. He is a free agent and is not a necessity. However, the Raiders could re-sign him pretty cheap and he is a decent backup tackle for both sides of the line.
Roster Status: Moderate
Also see Position Analyses:
Safety I Linebacker I Cornerback I Defensive End I Defensive Tackle I Special Teams
Quarterback l Running Back l Wide Receiver l Offensive Tackle l Guard/Center
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