The Oakland Raiders were very close to having their first winning season since 2002, then they went on to lose four of the last five games at the end of the season resulting in the firing of their head coach – Hue Jackson.
With the death of one of the NFL’s most influential and colorful figures – the legendary owner Al Davis, the Raiders started heading in a new direction. They hired former Green Bay executive Reggie McKenzie as the team’s new GM; his first move was to fire Jackson and to hire Denver Bronco’s former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen as the new head coach.
The Raiders bet the farm when they acquired Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals, they gave up a lot to get him (traded a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional second-rounder in 2013 that can become another first if Oakland makes it to the AFC title game in either of the next two years). Palmer is a proven QB with a limited history of success; he’s been to the playoffs twice without coming up a winner. The Raiders still believe in him, but has to improve from last year where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns (16-13) and was 4-5 as a starter. With Jason Campbell going to the Chicago Bears in free agency, the Raiders only have Terrelle Pryor and Rhett Bomar to fall back on, which isn’t much to trust as a backup.
1-Outside Linebacker: GM McKenzie believes they have a solid starter in every position on the field except for strong side linebacker after losing Kamerion Wimbley to free agency (Titans got him on a 5 years / $35M contract); Wimbley was Oakland’s sack leader. Whether they get a player through free agency, trade or draft – they probably come up with a player with Wimbley’s credentials, but they got to try.
2-Defensive Tackle: In 2011, the Raiders gave up 5 yards per carry, and that has been the Raiders weakness for years. They still have starters Richard Seymour and Tom Kelly on the roster, but they released John Henderson for failing a physical and they need to add a player to the rotation. There were rumors they have their eye on Derek Landri in free agency, but he re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one year contract.
3-Quarterback: As stated in the intro, they have their starter in Carson Palmer, but I don’t think they can put their trust in Pryor if Palmer goes down. The late Al Davis picked him last year in the third round of the supplemental draft, but does the new coaching staff see anything in him – as a QB at least? Rumor has it they have their eye on Matt Leinart, who was on the Texans’ roster last year, which would be a good pick up for them.
FS Tyvon Branch: Tendered at $6.212M
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LB Darryl Blackstock was a backup middle linebacker brought in by defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, who’s no longer there. Might have to go elsewhere to find work.
QB Kyle Boller had his only start last year before they traded for Palmer and was a bust. I don’t think offensive coordinator Greg Knapp wants to keep him.
SS Matt Giordano was signed last year when Hiram Eugene suffered a serious hip injury in the preseason. He led the team with 5 INTs along with his 70 tackles; he became a defensive leader. They might want to keep him.
SS Jerome Boyd is a special teams player who’s fighting for a roster spot; don’t know if he’s going to win.
LB Quentin Groves went to special teams when he was replaced by Aaron Curry. I don’t know if Oakland needs him anymore.
OT Stephon Heyer played both tackle and guard making $1.7M last year, might have to take a pay cut or look elsewhere.
WR T.J. Housmanzadeh looks like he lost a step; I’ve always said that Father Time is undefeated! Might have to look for work elsewhere.
DE Jarvis Moss was always injured last year; was a favorite of the late Davis. Now there’s a new regime and he could be looking for work.
CB Lito Sheppard was an early pick up in the season; they have a lot of cornerbacks and might be considered expendable.
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FB Marcel Reese is considered the most versatile player at that position in the NFL; the Raiders will certainly keep him on lock.
DE Mason Bodine was promoted from the practice squad; must find a way to catch the eye of GM McKenzie.
CB Bryan McCann was put on the roster as a kick returner, Oakland might look for some else on the roster to take over that duty.
OT Khalif Barnes: 1 yr. / $2M
OG Cooper Carlisle: 1 year contract / terms unknown
CB Ron Bartell: Free Agent Rams; 1 yr. / $3M
CB Pat Lee: Unrestricted Free Agent Packers; 1 yr. / $680,000
CB Shawntae Spencer: Free Agent 49ers; 1 yr. / terms unknown
CB Brandon Underwood: Free Agent; 1 yr. / $540,000
OG Mike Brisiel: Unrestricted Free Agent Texans; 5 yrs. / $20M
RB Mike Goodson: Traded by the Panthers
QB Rhett Bonar: Free Agent; terms unknown
LB Phillip Wheeler: Unrestricted Free Agent Colts; 1 yr. / terms unknown
DL Trevor Scott: Unrestricted Free Agent Patriots; 1 yr. / $1.150M – $250,000 signing bonus
DT John Henderson: Released (failed physical)
S Hiram Eugene: Released (failed Physical)
CB Chris Johnson: Released
CB Stanford Routt: Released
TE Kevin Boss: Released / picked up by Kansas City Chiefs
RB Michael Bush: Unrestricted Free Agent Bears; 4 yrs. / $14M – $7M guaranteed
QB Jason Campbell: Unrestricted Free Agent Bears; 1yr. / $3.5M – $2M signing bonus
RB Rock Cartwright: Unrestricted Free Agent; 1yr. / $950,000
WR Chaz Schilens: Unrestricted Free Agent Jets; 1 yr. / $765,000 – $500,000 guaranteed
C Samson Satele: Unrestricted Free Agent Colts; 3 yrs. / $10.8M – $5M guaranteed
RB James McCluskey: Released
G/T Bruce Campbell: Traded to the Panthers for RB Mike Goodson
Written by – Arnold Glass II – AFC West Writer