The Oakland Raiders endured a depth change during the first wave of free agency last week when the team lost special teamers Brynden Trawick and Daren Bates. Not only that, General Manager Reggie McKenzie may lose another special teams ace if Andre Holmes bounces. McKenzie made a point of upgrading the special teams unit when he quickly inked Trawick and Bates to one-year deals last offseason. Apparently, the Tennessee Titans had the same desire this free agency period and scooped up the two.
Trawick, a strong safety, signed a signed a lucrative two-year 4.75 million pact ($3 million is guaranteed). Bates, a linebacker, inked a rich three-year, $6 million deal. Like Trawick, he’ll be making $2 million this coming season. It’s a ton of coin for core special teamers. Despite the monetary amount, there’s no question the Raiders special teams takes a huge hit with the departures.
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Trawick showed well when thrust into the lineup in Week 17 against Denver. Displaying sound timing and instincts, he surprised many. Considering Trawick’s spot as the team’s fourth safety and relegation to special teams, his play earned him a bigger contract. Bates, on the other hand, built his reputation on athletic leaps for kick blocks and wasn’t fooled on an Indianapolis Colts’ fake punt. He also didn’t embarrass himself when injuries at linebacker put him sparingly in the lineup.
The Raiders depth and special teams suffer, when Holmes leaves. He blossomed into a reliable gunner on punts as he downed the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Oakland lost out to Buffalo for the veteran WR. While the addition of Patterson helps, too many key losses hurt.
While the departures do sting, it is not panic time. Ample time exists for McKenzie to land talent. The goal remains to supplement both depth and special teams with the further waves of free agency ahead. Also, the draft looms ahead. There’s also the post camp cap casualty cut as well.