With things looking like a new CBA deal could be reached very soon, the Raiders have set themselves in a good position to keep most of their best players from entering free agency.
Their main goal was to retain several of their own key free agents and it appears they have locked up most of them. The one glaring omission of course would be Nnamdi Asomugha.
The most recent free agents the team is attempting to ensure will return according to Jerry McDonald at the Contra Costa Times are restricted free agents Michael Bush and Zach Miller. The CBA is expected to have similar rules regarding when a player is eligible for unrestricted free agency -- at least in the immediate future. So the Raiders slapped both players with the highest possible free agent tenders. That means the only way a team can sign either player is if they are willing to part with a first and third round pick as compensation. It is not likely, even as good as Bush and Miller are, that any team would give up that much for either one of them. But the window still exists that a team with a low round pick might think Zach Miller holds that kind of value. However, the Raiders are still actively trying to work out a long term deal with Zach and he has said publicly that he would very much like that to happen.
UPDATE: Long Snapper John Condo has also been given a round two tender.
Prior to this latest development, the Raiders had also locked up several players they considered a high priority. They put the franchise tag on Kamerion Wimbley and signed Stanford Routt, John Henderson (reportedly), and Richard Seymour to longterm deals. They tied up a lot of money in those four players but obviously re-signing their own players was a priority and they accomplished that.
The players who look like they could be odd men out are Robert Gallery and Michael Huff. Gallery has come out publicly and said that he will be moving on due to the few conversations he and the Raiders had. And the word is that only a "few" conversations were needed, since neither was willing to compromise on two vastly different ideas of Gallery's worth. Gallery said $8 million and the team said $2.5. He is an unfortunate loss as he has been the best offensive lineman the Raiders have, when he is healthy. No doubt his injury concerns played a role in the low figure offered by the Raiders.
As far as Huff is concerned, there has been nothing, rumor or otherwise,to say that he and the team have talked about a contract. He has stated on his Twitter page that he is pretty much resigned to the fact that he will have to test the market and see what it brings. That may be what the Raiders want to happen. Based on the level of interest, they will see if they think Huff is worth it. Right now it doesn't look promising for the former seventh overall pick.
The next priority is the free agent offensive lineman -- Langston Walker being the foremost among them. There has also been no word of any contract discussions with him but he probably won't garner a great deal of interest from around the league. I can't see the Raiders letting him walk if they can get him for a reasonable price. Even if they are ready for Mario Henderson to step up and take the starting job at right tackle, Walker would be valuable depth.
Speaking of Mario Henderson, he too is up for restricted free agency. Teams can still put tenders on players during the CBA extension and I would expect the Raiders to put a round two tender on him to keep him around.
Samson Satele could see the same tender but for him it would be an original round tender because he was drafted in round two. With the Raiders having no other options at center, and Gallery leaving the team, Satele must be retained either as the starting center or solid depth.
UPDATE: Satele has now indeed received an original round two tender.
The final lineman that the team will look to bring back is Daniel Loper. He was picked up off the scrap heap last offseason and played extremely well in preseason and during the season when Gallery went down with injury. He will come pretty cheap so he is definitely worth the effort.
UPDATE: Loper has received a 2 year contract to stay with the team.
Keep in mind that the tenders placed on Zach Miller and Michael Bush are just the deals that have been revealed. There are likely more that have been handed out that have yet to be confirmed or are in the works, and most likely placed on many of the players I listed above.
The remaining free agent players not listed here are not as high of a priority: QB Bruce Gradkowski , LB Ricky Brown, S Hiram Eugene, WR Jonnie Lee Higgins, DE Jarvis Moss, LB Thomas Howard, OT Khalif Barnes, QB Kyle Boller, QB Charlie Frye, QB JT O'Sullivan, RB Michael Bennett, and LB Sam Williams. Some of these players will be offered minimum deals while the others will be allowed to move on.
UPDATE: LB Ricky Brown has received a round two tender, RB Michael Bennett signed a one year deal and S Hiram Eugene, QB Kyle Boller have both been re-signed to long term deals.
The good news is that what started as a seemingly massive amount of free agents to sign has been whittled down to only a few key guys.
Optimism makes its way back into CBA discussion
Robert Gallery: "time to move on" from Raiders
In flurry of late activity, Raiders re-sign Routt, tag Wimbley
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I do see the big picture my friend, and letting a quality gaurd like Robert Gallery go is a mistake, regardless of injury issues. How you can guarantee that Al Davis will pick up a quality offensive lineman via free agency, especially after he has spent over $80 million before a new CBA has even been agreed to, is beyond me. Are you aware, Kush, that the Raiders are in financial trouble? It is documented... Have you consistently attended Raider home games?? I have, and the coloseum is not packing in the fans like it once was.. And, are you aware that signing a quality gaurd or offensive tackle will be just as, if not more expensive than Gallery??? Don't think for a minute that Jared Gaither will be a cheap addition.
The bottom line here is that Al Davis is on a serious spending frenzy, and to me it borders on reckless, especially if he views John Henderson as a more valuable player than Robert Gallery. The offensive line, Kush, is the most important area of needed improvement for the Raiders, and letting one of its leaders, and most experienced players go is not addressing it in the correct way, especially after all the time and money the Raiders have spent on developing Gallery into the fine player that he is today.
AND, if the Raiders resign Zach Miller, we will be looking at a contract equal to or more than Stanford Routt. Miller will have to be resigned to a multi year deal or he will leave. Period. His talent is way to high to be passed on by teams with late first round picks, and Al will have to fork out the big bucks to keep him, which will further stress the Raiders' finances. Combine this with the unknown salary cap in the next CBA, and there is no way any gaurantees can be deemed credible.
as usual Spart, you dont see the big picture. you want a guy that plays 8 games a year? when he does, he's not THAT solid. we can find someone WAY BETTER in FA ... Al intends to do so. GALLERY WANTED 8 MILLION A YEAR. put yourself in Al's shoes and fork that amount of cash out to a guy YOU KNOW WILL BE INJURED AT SOME POINT NEXT SEASON.
Zach is worth EVERY PENNY he gets... no doubt.
So what you are saying is ... Mr. Davis continues to do what's good for the team and the end of the season doom and gloom rhetoric should turn to upbeat fan optimism. We're going to be fine in 2011. Go Raiders!
@DARKKUSH Kush, just to be accurate here, you can promise no such thing in regards to the Raiders getting anyone "solid" in FA along the Oline. The Raiders haven't acquired anyone solid in free agency along the Oline for several years so what makes you think Al Davis will suddenly do it? There is nothing to say that. I am not "promising" he won't, just saying there is nothing that suggests he will. Or even be able to afford anyone solid for that matter.
@Kikmor for once, yes. Hue is the right choice. Routt's contract is iffy ... but if we can still get some solid FA's for our Oline(which will happen i promise you) and have another solid draft.. this team will win the division no doubt.
I am really disappointed that the Raiders let Robert Gallery go, and it doesn't make sense to me at all that Al Davis would offer John Henderson $4 million per year and Robert Gallery only $2.5 million. Gallery, to me, is far more valuable than Henderson, and this is a move I think the Raiders will regret down the road, especially considering how Al Davis is tying up so much money on our defense, which will certainly limit the Raiders in their ability to sign quality free agent offensive linemen, and a "go to" free agent wide receiver.
l also think it is risky placing a tender on Zach Miller, as I think he is too good to be passed on by other teams, especially teams with late first round picks. I can easily see a team giving up a late first round and a third for Miller, as that would be a STEAL for a quality player like Zach, who in my opinion, is easily among the top three best tight ends in all of football.