2012 Free Agency begins next Tuesday, March 13th at 4pm. The third in a series of looks at positions the Raiders may target.
Defensive End: Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaugnessy
Defensive Tackle: Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly
Offseason Moves so far: none
On the Roster:
DT: Jamie Cumbie – picked up as a UFA. Spent all of 2011 on practice squad. Signed to future/reserve contract 1/3/12
DE: Hall Davis – signed to future/reserve contact 1/6/2012
NT: Travis Ivey – signed to future/reserve contact 1/3/2012
Restricted Free Agents:
Unrestricted Free Agents:
Mason Brodine – exclusive rights free agent
Projected 2012 Starters:
4-3: Shaughnessy, Seymour, Kelly, Houston
3-4: Bryant, Kelly, Seymour
The first two positions of need that we've already discussed, Cornerback and Linebacker, are the most important simply because there are not enough bodies to even fill those positions as well as a lack of talent. The Raiders have some talent on their roster on the defensive line but they lack a dominant force and were, at times, completely unable to collapse the pocket last season.
At tackle, Richard Seymour is a 2011 Pro-Bowler but that was more reputation than deserving. He struggled with health issues and sloppy play throughout the season. He disappeared in many games and was not the dominant force the Raiders were hoping he'd be.
Tommy Kelly was probably the better of the two tackles in '11. He has a maddening tendency to try to predict the snap count and gets more than his fair share of offsides penalties. If the Raiders are serious about reducing penalties, he will have to play more disciplined in '12.
At end, Matt Shaughnessy has a lot of promise but was injured most of last season. Lamarr Houston had a very disappointing sophomore season after showing a high intensity motor as a rookie in 2010. Both are expected to be back and probably will start when the Raiders are in 4-3 alignment.
Coach Allen wants to be "multiple" on defense, which means he'd like the Raiders to also be able to play the 3-4 defense. None of the players on the team last season fit the mold of a space eating Nose Tackle in the 3-4.
In New England, Seymour was a 3-4 defensive end, where he may play again in that alignment in Oakland. Seymour could also attempt to play Nose but he's not as big as a true NT.
Kelly has shed some weight in recent years – and it's seemed to help his play – but he may be asked to bulk up a bit and attempt Nose Tackle. I hope this isn't the case, though, as Kelly really played poorly at a higher weight because his conditioning was poor.
Desmond Bryant has the makings of a really good 3-4 DE. He played some end last season in the 4-3 where he is a stout run stopper. He's big enough to play 3-4 end and he showed some good conditioning – there were plays where he would be chasing a runner 10 or more yards down the field, which is rare for a tackle.
The Raiders did sign a future/reserve contract with a true NT named Travis Ivey at the beginning of the year and he has some potential, I hear. It will be interesting to see how he fares in camp to see if he's destined for the practice squad or if he could make a push to the actual roster and maybe even make a splash this season.
DT John Henderson's best days are behind him and he is expected to be released any day, now.
In Free Agency, many fans are clamoring for Mario Williams. While Williams played LB in Houston last season in the 3-4, he's a more natural Defensive End. I would expect a team that plays 4-3 to sign him over a 3-4 team because he's at his best and most disruptive rushing the passer. He's one of the, if not the, premier player in this year's free agency pool and I cannot imagine the Raiders signing him, I'm sorry to say.
I'm hoping the Raiders target one of the veteran Nose Tackles available this year. A good NT is worth his (considerable) weight in gold. There are a few that have been allowed to hit the market that would be immediate impact players – The overall consensus best is Paul Soliali from the Miami Dolphins. He is 28, 6-4 and 355 and can be an impact player at one of the most important positions on the field.
Another impact tackle is former Jets tackle Sione Pouha. He's a bit older, 33, but still productive. He is 6-3, 325 lbs. He was a backup for much of his career so he doesn't have as much mileage as many 33 year old players.
Another possibility is former Saints and 49ers tackle Aubrayo Franklin. He played at a very high level in San Francisco from 2007-2010 but had a disappointing year in New Orleans last season. He may be a good value selection for the team if they cannot land one of the top tackles.
Who do you want the Raiders to sign, if anyone, this free agency period?
Ask me questions or tell me what you think on Twitter @AsherMathews
Sammie Lee Hill only received an original tender - which would be a fourth round selection. I think it would be worth surrending a fourth round pick for him.
Red Bryant. This guy is going to be a beast. He's only 27 currently and is built like a NT at 6'4" and 330 or so pounds but has great athleticism for a guy his size having played DE in the 4-3. He also recorded 4 blocks last season and had a pair of interceptions. One of which he returned for a TD.
Another option at NT who could be used for a season or two to allow Ivey to develop is Antonio Garay. I also like Jason Jones and Dave Ball fom the Titans, the Jaguars Matt Roth, Mark Anderson from the Patriots and Rocky Bernard from the Giants.
Another interesting prospect is Sammie Lee Hill from the Lions. He is a Restricted Free Agent but the Lions are hard up against the cap also so may not be able to offer him much of a contract. He also has good size at 6'4" and 330 pounds to play the NT.
As for our guys, I would not be surprised to see Kelly cut or traded. Bryant looks to have a huge future and in my opinion was the best D-Lineman this past season we had. Houston should probably be a DT not DE in a 4-3 also. I also hope Trevor Scott is re-signed. He would be cheap and with the right coaching and scheming could return back to some of his 2008/2009 form when he is used correctly.
@nilbymouth not a bad idea but I think Reggie wants his guys in to prove his abilities and he has a small class to work with in his first year
@nilbymouth Yeah, I also expect Tommy Kelly to hit the road. Dude is good but not a beast and he's earning some elite money. He's not a good fit for the 3-4 defense and would be an expensive item to keep him even if this will be an hybrid defense.
@Black_Nightmare @nilbymouth Looks like with all this restructuring of contracts, and releasing of players (Chris Johnson and Hiram Eugene today?), the Raiders must be planning on signing a huge impact player. It very well could be Mario Williams or Vincent Jackson. I have heard two sports radio talk shows in San Diego talk about a possible Vincent Jackson signing with the Raiders. Very interesting how this is playing out. Either a Williams or a Jackson signing would be amazing, and would add a serious injection of firepower...