Oakland Raiders free agency Day 1: Questionable signings and big losses

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Day one of free agency is nearly in the books; here’s your afternoon update on the Oakland Raiders. With much anticipation surrounding free agency and the league leading amount of cap space, many in Raider Nation were rather disappointed with pretty much everything that happened on day one of free agency. Here is a look at what went down and what it might mean for the team.

Hits

The Raiders signed one free agent and brought back one of their own. In a move that was not surprising, the Raiders did exactly what was reported yesterday and signed offensive lineman Rodger Saffold. In a rather surprising move, the Raiders re-signed running back Darren McFadden.

Both signings had people confused or upset. Saffold, who had been moved from tackle to guard on his previous team, the St. Louis Rams, ended up with a bigger contract than Jared Veldheer, signing a five year deal worth $42.5 million. As a result, there are those who believe the Raiders overpaid for Saffold, especially considering there were reports that the Raiders actually planned to use him at guard. The bigger issue, in my eyes at least, is that Saffold has a history of injuries. Most of the league sees him as a very talented player, but if he cannot stay on the field, that will not matter.

McFadden, on the other hand, signed one of Reggie McKenzie’s patented “prove it” one year contracts. At its most, the contract is reported to be worth $4 million, but reports indicate the base is only $1.75 million and with only $100,000 in guaranteed money. Though the full details of the contract have not been revealed, it has been speculated that it would be very difficult for McFadden to reach the incentives that would earn him the top value of the deal. If, however, he does earn it, in all likelihood its because he had a great year and would be worth every cent.

Misses

The Raiders saw running back Rashad Jennings, defensive end Lamarr Houston and left tackle Jared Veldheer. All three of these guys were key contributors in 2013 and all three will be missed. But at the same time, all three can be replaced. They were good players to be sure, but none were elite talent. The Raiders did not lose a super star or a guy whose production cannot be replicated. Would it have been nice to keep them? For sure. Is it the end of the world they walked away? Nope.

Rumors

The Raiders reportedly met with former New York Jets offensive tackle Austin Howard today. Could Reggie McKenzie be building a monster on the offensive line?

UPDATE:

The Raiders have signed former New York Jets right tackle Austin Howard.

Howard is a very good run blocker and increases the physicality of the Raiders offensive line. It would appear that McKenzie is looking to build a physical offensive line capable of producing a strong run game. Not a bad idea considering the quarterback position will be questionable.

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