The Oakland Raiders have one of, if not THE top free agent left tackle in Jared Veldheer. With the deadline for use of the franchise and transition tag now past, many in Raider Nation have come to the all too early conclusion that the Raiders are preparing to say good bye to the potential pro bowl tackle.
This, however, is a massive conclusion to jump to. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has already stated numerous times that he does not like using the franchise tag and that he much prefers to sign players to long term contracts.
He did use one tag since being in Oakland, but it was on Tyvon Branch, who was soon after signed to a long term contract. At the time, however, the Raiders were in the middle of massive salary cap issues that McKenzie was trying to resolve. The use of the tag on Branch was due to the fact that McKenzie had work to do on the cap before he could get Branch signed to a longer term deal.
That problem is not present here. With the immense amount of cap space that is available there is no need to delay negotiations. If the Raiders are going to sign Veldheer, they are going to sign him. They do not need extra time.
In fact, in all likelihood, they are simply using every last second as a bargaining tool. This is a very very common tactic in the NFL and fans should expect to see a number of guys re-sign with their teams right before the free agent period starts.
This is NOT a sign of a lack of interest or intent in signing the player, it is a negotiating tactic.
Lamarr Houston, on the other hand, is someone Raiders fans can be concerned about losing. But the two situations are very different. Rumors are that Houston is looking for a big time pay day, something he is unlikely to find in Oakland.
When it comes down to it, Houston is simply not worth a massive pay day. In order for a defensive end to be paid like that, they have to be a pass rusher. Period. That is what brings value to the position.
On the flip side of things, to be a highly paid left tackle, you need to stop the pass rush, something Veldheer does very very well. Injuries and a poor fit in the zone blocking scheme aside, let’s not forget how the kid out of Hillsdale dominated guys like Tamba Hali as a young player in the league.
Veldheer will not come cheap, but he will be worth the big pay day. Houston does not produce in the same way that Veldheer has and is therefore not as valuable as he appears to think and is risk to leave the Raiders.
There is still a chance that Veldheer does not get re-signed but the fact that the tag period has passed does not mean that suddenly the Raiders are much less likely to re-sign him. He was NEVER a guy that the Raiders were going to use a tag on.
So be patient Raider Nation, this is how things go. Like it or not, negotiation tactics play a large role in when a guy gets signed. There is a reason not very many of the major free agent prospects have been signed. If you think that all of those guys will hit the market, you’re confused. Many of them will not and Veldheer is probably one of the guys who will not make it to free agency.