As expected, the Raiders did not make any major moves during the first week of free agency. All this, much to the chagrin of bored fans getting their off-season football fix via twitter debates and reruns of ESPN 30 for 30.
But, extreme boredom in the off season is really a good thing when you’re winning. Let me explain: Raider GM Reggie McKenzie isn’t dropping dollars like he did last season when he acquired sexy pieces like Kelechi Osemele and Bruce Irvin. Quiet is good, and it’s a sign of an improved team embracing a new, winning culture. Plus, it is also a strong indicator of what future off-seasons may look like, as the Raiders wrestle with cap space, working to sign the faces of the franchise, Mack and Carr, for years to come.
Although the acquisition process during week one appeared quiet, the Raiders continued to lose starters like Reggie’s first 1st rounder, DJ Hayden signed with Detroit. Hayden’s departure surprised me. Also, the Raiders lost Malcolm Smith and OT Menelik Watson to our rivals, the Denver Broncos. Coupled with the departures of Trawick, Holmes and Bates, Oakland is fine tuning the roster. I’ll admit it was strange to see foundational depth pieces leave for other teams, especially to division foes. RaiderNation echoed my sentiment through social media posts and rants. While last year’s free agency was about spending money the team had to spend, or face league penalty. Another benchmark for the Raiders is Reggie’s meticulous handling of the cap, as he rescued us from previous debt. If McKenzie signs another linebacker during free agency, it speaks volumes about depth issues.
How will the rest of free agency pan out?
It looks like Reggie will focus on Derek Carr’s extension this year, In the offseason, Khalil Mack will be the focus. Carr’s contract is set to expire in 2017. Also, look for the team to sign one, maybe two, quality players in free agency. As of this, the Raiders penned Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings. Who will be next? Most likely, the Raiders should target a defensive lineman. With that said, expect Reggie to continue filling the missing pieces of our team via the NFL Draft, in April. In addition, the Raiders enjoyed visits from FA LB Zach Brown and Jared Cook. Cook ended up signing a two-year deal, there’s more work to do.
Generally speaking, no one wins the first wek of free agency. Ny now, all of us know that Reggie McKenzie sees long-term first.