Raiders may benefit from letting Veldheer and Houston hit free agency

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As of 4 March, 2014 the Raiders still have not re-signed LT Jared Veldheer and DE Lamarr Houston. Fans are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the announcements that both players have been signed to long term contracts. It is not even certain if talks are even being conducted between the Raiders and the agents of these players.

As with everything GM Reggie McKenzie and Coach Dennis Allen have done lately, their silence is deafening and has Raider fans very nervous and anxious.

The time period to designate Franchise or Transition players has come and gone with no action by the Raiders concerning these two key players, or any of their pending free agents for that matter. This should not come as a surprise since McKenzie has already stated that he does not want to tag his players. He would rather get a contract deal done.

Free agency does not officially start until March 8th at 4:00 New York time, with contracts not to be executed until March 11th at 4:00 New York time. There are still a few days until these players hit the open market. Once that happens, other teams may negotiate with their agents.

Fans should not panic. The Raiders have the means to counter any offer these players receive from other teams.

I am merely reiterating what virtually every expert has said when I say that the team and the agents are smart to allow other teams to make offers to these players. This way both parties get a fair shake. It makes no sense to offer these players more money than the market price for their services. On the flip side, it is not fair to the players to low-ball them. Once the fair market value is established for these player positions, both sides can use that as a baseline for negotiating their contracts.

Why do teams and agents do that? Everything boils down to money. It may seem that the Raiders have a ton of cap room to spend, but the reality is that they have a ton of needs to fill as well. McKenzie has a lot of room to be flexible and sign top quality talent, but he still needs to be smart about how much he pays them or else the Raiders could wind up right back in the mess they just got out of.

So what happens if one or both of these players hit the open market and are signed by another team? Raider fans will certainly be angry, but is it really a bad thing if the player agents are trying to gouge the team and McKenzie lets them walk? Let’s look at the available free agents for each of these positions for the answer:

Offensive Tackles:
1. Eugene Monroe (LT)
2. Jared Veldheer (LT)
3. Branden Albert (LT)
4. Anthony Collins (LT)
5. Rodger Saffold (LT)
6. Michael Oher (LT/RT)
7. Breno Giacomini (RT)
8. Austin Howard (LT/RT)
9. Zach Strief (RT)
10. Charles Brown (LT)
11. Bryant McKinnie (LT)
12. Ryan Harris
13. Eric Winston (RT)
14. Jason Fox (RT)
15. Will Svitek
16. J’Marcus Webb (LT/RT)
17. Tyson Clabo (LT/LG)
18. Mike Otto
19. Sean Locklear
20. Tony Pashos
21. Marshall Newhouse
22. Jeremy Trueblood
23. Khalif Barnes (Re-signed one-year, $1.1M deal with OAK)
24. Dennis Roland
25. Winston Justice
26. Jonathan Scott
27. Andrew Gardner
28. Rashad Butler
29. Guy Whimper
30. Sam Young

Defensive Ends:
1. Greg Hardy (Re-signed one-year, $13.116M deal with CAR)
2. Michael Johnson
3. Lamarr Houston
4. Michael Bennett
5. Arthur Jones
6. Everson Griffen
7. Jared Allen
8. Justin Tuck
9. Antonio Smith
10. Red Bryant
11. Tyson Jackson
12. Robert Ayers
13. Corey Wootton
14. Anthony Spencer
15. Willie Young
16. Brett Keisel
17. Jeremy Mincey
18. Will Smith
19. Matt Shaughnessy
20. C.J. Wilson
21. Ricardo Mathews
22. Adam Carriker
23. Marcus Benard
24. Jason Hunter
25. Israel Idonije
26. Keyunta Dawson (Re-signed one-year, $855K deal with NO)
27. Andre Carter
28. Frostee Rucker
29. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
30. Jermaine Cunningham (Re-signed one-year, $730K deal with NYJ)

As you can see, the free agent market is not lacking in available talent for either position. Neither is the draft prospect pool. Teams should be able to pick top talent in the middle rounds of the draft for these positions.

It would be in the best interest of both the team and the players to find a fair middle ground on how much to pay all of their free agents, especially since there are currently no true franchise guys at any position. What that will be remains to be seen, which is the most likely reason for the delay in re-signing these players.

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  • Mike

    Couldn’t agree more, IMHO the Raiders are in the drivers seat.