To sign or not to sign: Raiders free agent dilemmas

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When free agency started in 2012, the Raiders had to watch their free agents like Phillip Wheeler, Brandon Myers, Desmond Bryant and others leave for more money as they had their hands tied to their back with very little cap space to work with.

Luckily for the Raiders, since Reggie McKenzie has gotten rid of the bad contracts and took on the dead money all at once, the Raiders will stand in free agency with a league-high $66.6 Million in cap space. With this large amount of money, they will have ton of flexibility for once, but they will also have to make decision on their own, soon-to-be free agents.

Darren McFadden

It wasn’t a surprise that McFadden had yet another injury-plagued season, but what was shocking was that his excuse last season was that he wasn’t a fit in Gregg Knapp’s zone-blocking scheme. So the Raiders brought in Greg Olsen to bring back his preferred power-blocking scheme, and the results were a 3.3 yards per carry, which is exactly identical to what he produced last season in zone-blocking scheme.

The biggest surprise was, Rashad Jennings, who was supposed to be McFadden’s back-up, had a more productive season than McFadden by a wide margin with the same offensive-line.

Conclusion: Walk

Jacoby Ford

Once thought of as a future for the Raiders at the wide receiver position, is now a burden for this Raiders team. Health wasn’t an issue for him this season, but his fit on the team was. Ford is best known for his unbelievable speed, and it’s what made him a threat down field in 2011. But this season, offensive coordinator Olsen tried to use him in short/intermediate routes and in the red zone, and it clearly back-fired.

Not only was he unproductive as a receiver but also as a punt returner and a kick returner, nothing seemed to be working for Ford this season.

Conclusion: Walk

Lamarr Houston

Houston had been one of the bright players this season but he wasn’t perfect. Houston looked like an opposing presence to other team but there were several problems. First, he seemed out of position as the defensive end/outside linebacker role in Dennis Allen’s hybrid defense and is likely a much better suited for the role Jason Hunter was in. And second, since he was probably the only consistent pass-rusher, he faced double teams a lot of time. Luckily, both of those issues are fixable by just adding another pass rusher.

With that being said, the Raiders have to careful on how much they pay him, because he isn’t an elite pass rusher, and shouldn’t be paid like it.

Conclusion: Re-sign (at the right price)

Charles Woodson

Woodson had been solid this season but it’s still a tough one because he’s going to be 37 years old next season. Woodson, like all aging safeties struggled against the vertical game but he still made a lot of plays for this inconsistent defense.

Not to mention, Woodson had clearly specified that he wants to return to the Raiders for at least one more season.

Conclusion: Re-sign

Mike Jenkins

The Raiders were hoping Jenkins would return to his 2009 Pro Bowl form where he only gave up an outstanding 54.0 passer rating but he’s been inconsistent this season as he gave up 104.8 as he was the most targeted cornerback on this team, though it is harder for cornerbacks when the defensive line provides no pass rush.

Jenkins had also picked some dumb and costly penalties but he has been pretty effective against the run.

Conclusion: Re-Sign

Tracy Porter

Like Jenkins, Porter has also been inconsistent as he gave 92.0 passer rating but with less targets. His coverage skills have been bad but his tackling abilities have absolutely been horrific as he has taken some bad angles against the run and also had missed-tackles that lead to big plays for the opposing offense.

Porter’s lack of toughness is really the biggest reason why he isn’t a starting caliber cornerback.

Conclusion: Walk

Jared Veldheer

This one should be a no brainer. Veldheer had missed the first 11 games of the season but you already felt his presence when he came back against Dallas. Veldheer is recognized as one of the elite tackles in the league and is still only 26 years of age.

Aside from some penalties, he has been great for the Raiders especially considering he came off a significant injury.

Conlusion: Re-Sign (!!!)

Vance Walker

Walker has been solid for the Raiders this season, both as against the run and as a pass rusher as he recorded 28 QB hurries. Not to mention, he’s only 26 years old and is only going to get better.

Conclusion: Re-sign

Pat Sims

Sims had been one of the biggest surprises for the Raiders this season, as he was absolutely a massive presence against the run. Sims really stepped up his game at the end of the season and his best game against San Diego when he recorded 14 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and a sack.

Sims has been considered one of the best nose tackles and received a high 11.6 overall grade from PFF.

Conclusion: Re-Sign

This is going to be a really critical off-season for both McKenzie and Allen as they are both to be under the microscope by Mark Davis, and they would really have to put the money on the right place if they want to be successful in the 2014 season.

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