On March 11, the new league year officially starts for the NFL, but GM Reggie McKenzie is already preparing to build the 2014 Raiders in his original vision.
Here are a few items that Raider Nation should be aware of heading into the new football season:
- Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie will not be spending money like a drunken sailor; the team will be frugal, and almost imitate the “MoneyBall” approach of their stadium mates the Oakland A’s. The Raiders will get the most value for the team by adding multiple talented players at a rate that will give the team the best chance of winning. McKenzie will not be spending big dollars on “re-tread” free agents (Javon Walker, DeAngelo Hall, Larry Brown, etc.) and will be putting a keen eye towards the draft.
- The Raiders will be making a decision very soon on whom they wish to keep, and whom they wish to leave via free agency. Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston are two free agents that the Raiders seem to be interested in retaining for the future, but at a rate that will benefit the team and the player. Veldheer is looking for a multi-year deal, but is coming off an injury plagued 2013 season. Houston is coming off of a solid season, and may entertain several offers from teams looking to boost their defensive line, but the Raiders will be careful in negotiations with Houston so that they will not overspend. The Raiders will only bring both players back if it makes long-term financial sense.
- The Raiders are meeting with the representation staff of running back Darren McFadden in the coming week. McFadden’s group is trying to see if their client will be offered anything from the team, or if McFadden needs to find employment elsewhere. GM McKenzie has stated that he appreciates McFadden’s talent, but has never kept him on the field for a full year. This year in free agency, we will see a plethora of reliable running backs available at a much lower rate than what McFadden was paid; and there is a solid group of running backs available in the draft that may present a cost conscious situation to allow McFadden to leave via free agency.
- The quarterback decision will be made before the NFL Draft. The Raiders more than likely will be moving on from their current platoon of Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin. Both QB’s had a rough time last year, and the Raiders with the number five pick in the draft will likely look at QB in that position. The Raiders have also shown interest in possibly adding a veteran QB with names like Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick and Josh McCown in the mix. If the Raiders decided to trade Pryor, they should be able to obtain a fifth or sixth round pick as compensation.
- The Raiders were 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in 2013, and were only able to record 38 sacks on opposing QB’s. This is an area of major concern, and the Raiders will make a concerted effort towards this fact in free agency and the draft. The pass rush ability is the biggest concern, and possible suitors that may fit into the Raiders plans may be free agent defensive ends Michael Johnson and Michael Bennett. The Raiders are also in the market for a shut down cornerback, and could look at Tarell Brown from the 49ers and Alterraun Verner from the Titans.
- On the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders will be looking to shore up the offensive line. The Raiders are trying to re-sign Veldheer, and may look to get a quality pieces via free agency and the draft. The Raiders should be able to pick up a quality lineman in the second or third round of the NFL Draft.
- The Raiders will have seven picks at their disposal in the upcoming NFL Draft and have several areas of need. An option for the Raiders is to possibly trade the number five pick in the draft if the player they want is not available. This would bring in multiple picks in return, and help in adding multiple players of need to the team.
One thing is for certain: this offseason will define the Reggie McKenzie era of Raiders Football.