If the NFLPA and the NFL owners cannot agree on a new collective bargaining agreement in a timely fashion, the best scenario could end up being a postponement of the free agency period altogether. It’s all very confusing to me. I have so many questions and it seems nobody has any real answers, only speculation of what could happen, speculation that I am finding it hard to wrap my mind around at times. One of the biggest issues I have is, if there is no CBA before that third weekend in April, will there even be a draft? And also, on that same note, if the draft does happen in spite of having no agreement, how can you draft for your team's needs when you don’t even know what you are getting out of free agency?
Nevertheless, I’ve decided to take the list of the now 31-man list of Raiders free agents this year and tell you the guys that the Raiders must re-sign this year.
1. TE Zach Miller- I don’t care how interested he is in the open market and I don’t care if you have to make him the highest paid tight end in the league. He has proven he is dedicated and is a highly reliable safety valve in what has been a highly chastised receiving group for the Raiders. He might have the best hands on the entire team.
2. HB Michael Bush- He may want to go elsewhere and try to become the man, but if you can restrict his movement under the new CBA with that first and third round tender that Stanford Routt received last year then why not do that? Darren McFadden did have a breakout season but he hasn’t proven he can go all the way without injuries yet. And when he is out, the Raiders need to have Bush in.
3. OLB Kamerion Wimbley- He is the perfect sidekick to Rolando McClain in the Raiders linebacker crew. He is versatile enough to line up at defensive end in the nickel and dime packages and had a career year last year with nine sacks. Plus, he is great with the media.
4. FB Marcel Reece- He has developed into one of the most versatile fullbacks in the league and if he keeps going at this rate he could completely reinvent the position. He also blocked for the fifth highest single season mark in Raiders history and when McFadden wasn’t on the field, Michael Bush managed to rack up 655 yards and eight touchdowns behind him as well.
5. DT Richard Seymour- I’m not giving him top priority on this list because of the possibility he will be franchised again. Though I think the Raiders should give him a deal that makes him a Raider until he retires, the early signs point to another tag for Seymour, if it is applicable under the new rules. But Seymour was a beast this year and if he hadn’t missed three games he would’ve had career numbers. He makes Tommy Kelly look good, too.
6. CB Stanford Routt- Never thought I would be saying this at this time last year, but here I am. With the possible impending departure of Nnamdi Asomugha, the combination of Routt and Chris Johnson (who still has two years left on his deal) is a must have for the Raiders. With these two as starters, it may be easier to play coverage in the Oakland secondary because nobody is getting picked on. Bonus: that could mean more interceptions and less pressure on Tyvon Branch.
7. LG Robert Gallery- He may not be the franchise left tackle he was supposed to be when he was drafted, but he is the heart and soul of the group as a whole. With his move to left tackle, his price tag will drop significantly. If Gallery can stay healthy next year and the Raiders make the playoffs, Gallery could see his first Pro Bowl nod. Premature, I know, but he is of that caliber in my opinion.
8. LS Jon Condo- The San Diego Chargers special teams' issues were due in large part to rotating their long snappers all year long. Condo’s value on special teams is something that is often overlooked, but his snaps as well as his punt team coverage make him invaluable. In addition, he is a veteran and a Pro Bowler.
9. RB Rock Cartwright- He proved his worth this year on special teams more than once and actually got into the backfield at times. His locker room presence speaks volumes for his character and he brings his own brand of energy to his teammates. He is a valuable commodity for the Raiders moving forward.
10. C Samson Satele- Many in the Raider Nation wonder if Satele is the right guy for the job, but he was one of the only solid players on the line this year, like it or not. And the Raiders played ten teams that use the 3-4 defense this year that he had all that trouble with while he was in Miami. He fared significantly better against it this year and he is a far better option than Jared Veldheer.
Now let’s take a look at some guys who didn’t make the cut.
FS Michael Huff- I’m still not sold on his arm tackling and his sometimes half-hearted play, but he appears to be the best option at the position currently on the roster. Is that good enough to warrant a new contract with similar money? Probably not, and Mike Mitchell is just drooling over the possibility of proving himself next to Tyvon Branch in the Raiders secondary; Branch, with his former CB knowledge from college, could be the better choice to swap positions.
CB Nnamdi Asomugha- Some of you will take this the wrong way when you read it. Don’t do that, I love Nnamdi, I want him to be a Raider forever and normally I’d say we have to re-sign him, but his price tag will keep going up and up and up. There are 32 teams in the league and 32 of them will want this guy to be on their team. 31 of them would probably use him better than the Raiders do. Unfortunately some teams don’t have the cap space for it and there will most assuredly be a cap. The Raiders are one of those teams who don’t have the cap space.
QB Bruce Gradkowski- The Raiders have four backup quarterbacks with contracts coming up: Grads, Kyle Boller, Charlie Frye, and J.T. O’Sullivan. Of the four, I think Frye’s value may be the highest. Bruce is injured too often and the other two guys are not worth keeping over the possibility of having Hue Jackson and Paul Hackett developing a rookie or younger player at the position. Frye could be a quality backup for the Raiders. And they shouldn’t put the Gradkowski pressure on starter Jason Campbell again.
LB Thomas Howard- He was hurt for the beginning of the year and only made a few plays on special teams this season. Most of his value with the Raiders appears to be behind him. He probably wants a shot at being a legit part of a defense again and with the linebackers the Raiders now have, like Quentin Groves and hybrid Trevor Scott, playing time could be slim pickings. Howard could be a better fit in a 3-4 scheme that requires faster linebackers who may not have the size for a 4-3.
RT Langston Walker- He was not horrible this year, but he looked very sluggish at times. While he is a favorite of Al Davis, a cerebral guy, and a mammoth, he isn’t going to be winning any lineman of the year awards and he is not in great shape anymore. He could be a suitable backup for both tackle positions, but I don’t think he is needed in Oakland. Khalif Barnes and Mario Henderson are both capable backups and they are younger and in much better physical shape than Walker.
And now the guys who should have a shot in training camp.
LB Sam Williams, DE Jarvis Moss, S Hiram Eugene, LB Ricky Brown, DT’s John Henderson & Desmond Bryant, WR’s Nick Miller & Johnnie Lee Higgins, OT/TE Khalif Barnes, OT Mario Henderson, OG Daniel Loper.
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I wouldn't let cjUK, ChrisUK, sorry.... Chris 1979 opinions get to you Bret. I just cant take the guys posts seriously, he just spits out crap. And then changes his user name as if we dont know the difference. Let the most reliable pass catcher we have for the last million seasons just walk on a free? LMFAO!!! It's amusing that he bangs on at Dizzles opinions and his 'cheerleaders' yet every time I've come back at you Chris you've got no reply. And here you are doing it all over again:
"It’s a tight-end friendly league these days. Lots of simple passes."
Yet last time we had this very SAME argument you had your very OWN Dizzle bashing cheerleader spitting out BS that TE's and slot receivers were catching all these EASY passes all over the place. And where were you when it came to backing up your theories??? In hiding. At least the other muppet came back with something even if it was more BS. Fact; TWO tight ends in the top 20 this year by number of receptions.
Getting back to the article I'd agree with your top four Bret. They're a must for me. I'm not sure after that. Big decisions for the Raiders to make and they have get them right combined with FA signings and draft strategy. If they dont get it right all last years progress could go in a hurry.
Some of these "training camp" players I think are just as important to this team as the bigger name potential Free Agents. There are others I think we need to not even bother re-signing as we could get just as much minimal production from others. Threes guys I would like to see us not bother with again are Sam Williams, Johnnie lee Higgins and Kahlif Barnes.
On the other side I feel four of these "training camp" guys we need to re-sign are key contributors that are more important to this team than people give them credit for. Plus these are guys that have the potential to be signed cheaply and give us a lot more "bang for our buck" over some of the starters in our team.
Hiram Eugene: We shouldn't be relying on Eugene to be competing for a starting job, but he is a decent backup safety to both spots and is a key contributor to special teams.
Daniel Loper: When Gallery went down Loper stepped in and nothing changed. His name was barely mentioned at all (for a O-Lineman this is the way it should be) and the line was just as good with him in the side.
John Henderson and Desmond Bryant: Both of these guys are key rotational players at this point in their careers to our defense line front and I think we need to keep both. Henderson was injured for nearly half the season last year but when he did play, whether in relieve duty or as a starter for Seymour, Henderson contributed in a big way. He also gives our young defense another veteran for them to go to and should be retained pretty cheaply. Bryant is another key contributor that we need to keep and not just on a Restricted tender offer. We need to sign and lock him up to a long term deal now while he is still cheap because if he keeps growing as he has his first couple seasons he could be pushing for a big money deal very soon. Another year behind Seymour, Kelly and Henderson and I think Bryant could be our best tackle.
I'd like to keep them all. You know though, I personally wouldn't be that bothered if we dumped:
You know, Miller's a good player, but if he's wanting Dallas Clark money, he should start playing like Dallas Clark.
60 receptions, 600 yards, 3 touchdowns is dime-a-dozen in the NFL these days. We could draft, or pick up a whole host of guys who could cover that sort of output
As for Namdi, he's a good player, but not worth embarrasing yourself over. If he wants $10 million a season, I'd just let him walk
@Chris1979 60 grabs 600 yards and three touchdowns on a planter faciaitis though. That doesn't happen often. I assume you want him to play like Dallas Clark before he was on IR for most of the season???
Zach Miller is not worth breaking the bank for in my opinion.
It’s a tight-end friendly league these days. Lots of simple passes.
He caught 60 balls, for 600 yards you know…………..Our back up tight end would match those numbers
Yeah how do we not have the cap space?!?! The Raiders are one of the teams heading into the off season with by far the most cap space available. You might try to validate your claims by saying, "oh but the Raiders have to sign so many free agents, at the end of the day they won't have any cap space" ... Ummm, but your argument was said under the pretence that heading into the off season the Raiders do not have the cap space. Which is a straight up bold lie. Do you just make this stuff up as you go along? Say the 1st thing that comes to your mind? If this is just your opinion of made up facts, it was an enjoyable read nonetheless.
Stanford Routt is a must keep? Are you kidding me!? He's just another Stewart Schweigert.....they get beat left and right!!! Take a look at all the games the Raiders lost in the 4th qtr.....almost every time you'll see Routt Stuck on dummy and giving up the big play!
2nd best Pass D in the league.
Sooner or later you naysayers are going to have to respect that the starters in that D do a good job..........
Raiders fans like failure. Rich Seymou has presided over one of the worst rushing defences in the league this season, and you guys love him as he's a "great leader"
Great article Bret. I agree with you on all your takes. The two guys I would definitely make a priority of resigning is Zach Miller and Robert Gallery. Miller has, without question, the best hands on this team, and is a vital ingredient to the success of the Raider offense. Until the Raiders can get a legitimate go to receiver, the role of Zach Miller will be among the most important on this team, and I really mean this when I say that he will be one of the best, if not best, tight end in the NFL in one to two years, and a player of this immense quality has to remain with the Raiders. Robert Gallery is another guy who has to stay. Gallery is the anchor of our offensive line, and if the Raiders add a couple more quality players, say like a Jared Gaither, the Raider oline will be a very solid unit, and a solid oline will produce a solid offense. The two go hand in hand...
The one guy I would definitely send packing is Bruce Gradkowski. I am not a fan of this guy at all, and think that he was way more of a trouble maker than a productive player for the Raiders. Gradkowski was all about himself, and the way he tried to force himself back in as a starter after only two weeks rehab from a 3rd degree separation was downright pathetic, and it was even more pathetic that our EX coach, Tom Cable, bought into this guy's ra ra bullshit, so much so, that it was without question a major reason why he was let go by Al Davis. With a career starting record of (5-15), Gradkowski was lucky the Raiders took a chance on him, and by this season's end, his myth was exposed and the reality of Bruce Gradkowski is that he is a highly injury prone journeyman quarterback who has one of the weakest arms in the NFL, and is a guy who contributed to the slow development of a vastly superior quarterback, Jason Campbell, and almost ruined the Raider hopes of competing for the playoffs, had Al Davis not put him on IR...Charlie Frye understands his role way better than Gradkowski does, and yes, I agree with Bret that Frye's value is higher than Grads, and that in my opinion, the Raiders would be far better off with Frye as a backup, as there won't be unneeded controversy with Frye, and Campbell can continue his development without having to look over his shoulder all the time....
i agree michael bush has the ability to be the #1 man at rb. But i'd love to have as the chemistry with dmac is huge. I've seen several games when Mcfadden couldn't get the run started and he burned the line through. since the best thing the raiders had in 201 was our running game i'd make bush and reece priorities
I love Michael Bush, but in reality, he is a luxury. Someone is going to throw $$$ at him to be THE MAN. Id love to see him back, but in reality we have more pressing needs on which to spend our money. Tolbert from SD would be an adequate replacement.
@oaklandraider luxury, yes, worth the $3.8 million given to a 1st and 3rd round tender? Most definitely
I dont know how you can say we dont have cap space. SUre we have to resign a lot of guys but we have about 40-50 million committed for 2011. The cap will proably be 100 million higher than that.
@Branch You going to get these 31 guys in the cap for $50 million? Nnamdi alone is going to be like $15 of that