Raiders' new GM Reggie's McKenzie's philosophy is starting to take shape now 3 days into his first free agency.
For starters, he's not a fan of contracts that he feels are "out of whack." John Henderson, Kevin Boss, Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, Carson Palmer, Richard Seymour, Hiram Eugene - all had contracts that were either too high for their level of play or too much a hit against the salary cap and all were mentioned as being possible targets.
Each one has been targeted with Henderson, Boss, Johnson, Routt and Eugene released and Palmer and Seymour restructuring.
While it's possible that the Raiders have been inactive in the first few days of free agency because of little cap room, I don't believe that's the case. I believe that McKenzie has learned in his time in Green Bay that the first days yield contracts that are too player friendly.
Many of the contracts that have been signed in the first few days are panic contracts. Vincent Jackson, Mario Williams, Carl Nicks - they are likely all good players but each will have to be elite for the course of their contracts or those contracts will hamstring their teams down the road.
The Raiders have been in that situation before and it's not the way to build for a championship.
Instead, the Raiders are building slowly. They are taking their time in free agency to find the right pieces.
Today, it was reported that the Raiders will be meeting with former Rams CB Ronald Bartell - a former second round pick in 2005.
The scouting report on Bartell is positive - he's a big corner at 6'1", 205 lbs. In St Louis, Bartell showed the ability to match up against number one wide receiver so if he looks healthy he could be a good risk.
He is a risk because in week one of the 2011 season he hurt his neck - it ended up being a cracked C7 vertebrae - and was put on IR. That's obviously a concern for the team because football is such a violent sport.
Bartell is not a ball-hawking CB but possess good coverage skills. That means he doesn't gamble on trying to guess what the QB is going to do, he focuses on shadowing his man and making sure he isn't open.
Rotoworld called Bartell "bizarro DeAngelo Hall" in that he doesn't get many interceptions - he has only 8 in his career - but he is a good cornerback and staying on his man. As Raiders fans are aware, Hall gambles and can come away with interceptions but also get burned if he guesses wrong.
Bartell has no other serious injury concerns other than the neck fracture and reportedly his doctors have told him that he is not at any increased risk moving forward, so if the money is right he sounds like a good signing for the team.
Bartell was cut due to cap issues. He was in the last year of a 4 year $25 million contract he signed in 2009 and was due $6.2 million this year. He is 30 years old.
The Raiders have also reportedly reached out to former Saints CB Tracy Porter. Porter is 5'11, 186 lbs. He played mostly Nickel for the Saints. He is 25 and a 4 year veteran of the league. His only injury concern was microfracture surgery after 2010 for a knee injury that seemed to affect his explosiveness.
Porter has already visited with the Bengals, today, but is also expected to visit with the Raiders. Raiders HC Dennis Allen was his position coach when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009.
Other News Around the AFC West
Former Raiders TE Kevin Boss, released late Tuesday, signed with the Chiefs today. He will compete with promising TE Tony Moeaki for touches. Moeaki had a solid rookie season in 2010 but missed all of last season with a left knee injury.
The Chiefs signed free agent WR Eddie Royal, formerly with the Broncos. It's likely he'll be the slot player on the team, much like he was with the Broncos, where he had some success his rookie year in 2008. In subsequent years, he failed to be the impact player the team had hoped and the Broncos did not attempt to retain him.
Since I mentioned DeAngelo Hall earlier and his gambling tendencies and now I'm discussing Eddie Royal, it's only fair to bring up that it was Royal's performance as a rookie in 2008 that likely got Hall released mid season from the Raiders. Hall had 9 receptions for 145 yards and a TD playing primarily against Hall - as a rookie.
Speaking of Denver - reportedly they are still in the Peyton Manning running. Denver and Tennessee are mentioned most frequently as the most likely landing spots for Manning, at this time.
As exciting as the Raiders hosting players for workouts may or may not be, I expect their first signing any day now. Until then be patient, Raiders fans. The Raiders are going about this offseason the right way. They are not overreacting and reaching and they are not crippling their future with contracts that players will not be able to live up to.
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its being reported that the raiders have signed bartell and briesel and now porter is visiting with the team. if they can wrap up porter i will be good with that but i will be really happy if they can get revenge and sign away a player the chefs are trying to acquire like winston but i know its just wishful thinking.
IMHO we lost two guys that we really needed... Routt and Eugene. Except we needed the Routt from 2 years ago - the one who was playing hard for the big contract, not the one we had last season who already had the money and was looking forward to Monday, not Sunday. Eugene (if healthy) was a decent player imo. Boss to the Chiefs? So what? He could best be described as an average tight end - he certainly didn't fill the shoes of Miller.
I don't care how much we spend as long as we spend it wisely. The FAs that have been signed so far have been overpriced imo.
Good read, and I hope it is right. Still, Spartacus has a point. We are not just letting some of our best players go, but they are headed to our comeptitition in the division.
Jarrod also has a point, more money for better players makes sense. If we can save this money and pick up better players with it, ifne. But I am worried that we are saving this money in order to replace some of these plaeyrs with lesser talent, and that is not alright.
We were not that far out of it last year. I want to see a few tweeks so that we can build on our success that last two years (or at least not complete failures the last two years). Our last SB and playoff appearances were precedded by two a back to back 8 and 8 seasons. That's kind of where I thought we were at the end of this last season. But now, instead of buidling off of that, we seem to be going through a complete scrub down.
The problem with what McKenzie is doing, is that he is releasing players who are going to make our division rivals better. Routt and Boss will make a positive impact for the Chiefs, regardless of what many Raider fans think of their abilities. These are two high quality players, in my opinion, the Raiders should have never let go...Wimbley, who will most likely be released today, will sign with an AFC West team. Mark my words on this. The Chargers would definitely love to sign this guy, and if San Diego does indeed sign him, then that is both wrong and is complete bulls**t...Every AFC West team has been aggressive in free-agency except the Raiders. Releasing solid players, to me, is stupid, especially if no one is being signed (quality wise) to replace them. And please, the arguement of McKenzie needing to build from the draft is so weak. Realistically, if a team is going to build itself mainly from the draft, A) the team will need a full stockpile of picks (which the Raiders don't have this year) and B) is a gamble that may pay off in 4-5 years if the team is lucky. As much as I am a fan of the draft, it is a crapshoot. The Raiders need to quit worrying about trying to fix everything now, contract wise, and start signing quality players.
@Spartacus The Raiders can't worry about where a player is going to go, they have to simply worry about getting their house in order. What they want is to put together the best team. Then, it won't matter if the rest of the division wants their players because they will still be able to be competitive. If the Raiders are keeping players in bad contracts simply to keep those players away from other teams, that's not a good situation. They are focusing on what they need to to get their finances in order and will go about signing the players they need.
Agreed the Raiders cannot worry about where their cast offs go. But right now it looks like they are shedding off some good players, who we will be competing against in the division, and it is not clear we are getting better players to replace them. Granted, we don't know who will be replacing Wimbley as of yet. We may end up with someone better. But it is worth queistioning the strategy of waiting until everyone else has there pick to decide what is left, and if that will yield the "best team" for us.
Here's my philosophy, Jarrod, whether or not it's right. If a team goes out and signs a huge name, that person better be elite. Most of the big time contracts and big time names that have been signed this far will be mocked in 3 years or so. It happens every year. Heck, it's partially what got the Raiders into the financial mess we are in today. In order to get the best players on the field, you want contracts lower for a few reasons. One, it allows you to make signings or cut players as needed - you're not hamstringed by the players' contracts. Two, it doesn't make someone a must-start just because of their contract. You can bring in low level free agents, rookies, undrafted free agents and have them compete for the spot. Three, it allows you to fill out a team better because everyone involved tends to be there because they want to be there and because they are focused on the team and not just because they now have $50 million guaranteed.
So, be patient. The Raiders will likely be active in free agency, just not with the top players. But a good free agency class means that there is a lot of deep talent and it simply takes some time and effort to sort out the diamonds in the rough.
I think that considering the fact that we are strapped, draft pick wise, we should be more active during free agency to make up for it. I know that next year would be different as we are only short two picks vs. five this year. We only have TWO picks right now and when they dole out the comp picks, it will help a little. However, the comp picks does not mean that we can be lax and just sign players from the bottom of the pile cuz they will be cheap. I am sorry, I will not sacrifice quality over quantity.
Great, we get to sign like seven guys cuz they were cheap cuz they didn't get signed earlier for more by another team. It doesn't mean squat if the play of those seven players don't even equal the play of signing two or three much better players who cost more. I am sorry, I will take the superior play of the few over the crap of a bunch.
@JarrodRollins Thing is, if we weren't in cap problems, you could make a better case. This team was a little over 20 million over the top and restructuring was great to givie us some space but will also hinder a little this team economy for the nextr few years. If you want t go, win some games, win this awful division ando go to the playoff just to get your butt kicked like the Ponies did last season or the Chiefs 2 seasons ago, going and spending som bieg bucks on som big names is the best way to achieve that. Anyway, next year we would be having this very same argument.
What Reggie's trying to do is building a solid base. This team will get the most they can get from every dollar in order to put a competitive base of players for the next few years. Once you have that, you go and find those two or three players you need to become elite. You don't care if they are expensive or not, you just know the are what you need to be the best. We're just to far from that right now.
@Black_Nightmare My biggest problem is that this was and will be the best free agent class for a long time. I know that there are going to be a few really good players scheduled for free agency each year, but they will likely either re-sign prior to free agency or they will be tagged.
Also, with the shortage of draft picks for this year, we should have been more active in free agency. Guess what other teams are usually inactive during free agency; Bills, Seahawks, Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Titans, Vikings..... When was the last time any of those teams were threatening for anything? Yea, i know Bills sign Mario Williams this year, Seahawks are trying to sign Flynn and titans are trying to sign Manning. However, when was the last time when any of these teams really made a big signing? Seahawks with Rice last season? Bills when they signed Owens?
@JarrodRollins Yeah, but some other teams that never make any splash in free agency? GB, NE, Pittsburgh, Baltimore. I can't remember any ot these teams making a big signing in the last ten years (seriously, not even Moss to NE cause he was coming out from the Raiders and he had some pretty bad years here, he was kind of an outcast back in those days). My point is you may sign all the big FA names and become the 'dream team' and still suck, and you may sign no one relevant and still compete.
Well said and exactly my thoughts! Let these overpaid and under producing guys go (hoping for a couple more also) and bring in some hardworking, no nonsense guys that want to be out on the field giving it everything they have. I for one am very happy we are not out over spending on these guys.
Brandon Carr for $50 mil? No thanks! He could be very well another Routt. Quality number two CB but not much of a number one CB. Finnegan for $50 mil? Again pass thankyou. Carl Nicks at nearly $50 mil? Great guard but not that good! Especially when Grubbs was only $36 mil for the same length of contract!
@nilbymouth I could have give some money for Carr or Finnegan (I know you hate the guy, but I think he's pretty good). The thing is as good as a player might have been playing for a team, it doesn't prove he's gonna be that good anywhere else. A top FA will only have a big success in his new team if he does fit perfectly. Look Asomugah at the Eagles, he's a great CB, he was actually one of the best players we ever had but he's not a right fit at Philadelphia.
I think many of the big names who has already signed are trully talented and deserve some money, but they need to be on the right spot to be successful. Also, I think we can get the right men to do the job from now and later (even if they're not prime talent) cause this league has that much talented players.
I agree completely about players being better suited for some teams than others and that is one of the reasons I am always a little iffy on giving big contracts to Free Agents. But I do think some teams panic and do overpay for players at the beginning of Free Agency which is why I like McKenzie holding back right now. As I am sure I have seen you mention elsewhere this is what separates the consistently top teams (like the Packers, Ravens, Patriots and Steelers) compared to the one year wonder teams.
Perfect example being Carl Nicks. Don't get me wrong I think he is one of the top guards, if not the top guard, but his he really worth the extra $10 mil + he got over Grubbs? The Saints saved themselves $10 mil plus by signing Grubbs and I will be really surprised if the OL production drops off in anyway with Grubbs instead of Nicks.
@nilbymouth Yeah, we are on the same page. I just say, when you already are a very good team and you know your just a great player far from being a real contender, and somehow, you find that great player just barely floating over the rapids of free agency, sometimes is a godd decision to spend big to get that one player. You only need to know he's a perfect fit and he's all you've been lacking to be successful.
PS heres my first piece in forever...thoughts? http://www.silverandblackpride.com/2012/3/15/2876518/unbunch-your-panties
very nice post as always....great point on top free agents not living up to the huge contracts. As for out of whack Raider contracts, my guess there is still more restructuring happening as we await our signings to begin.