As the three-day tampering period finished its first 24 hours in the young 2018 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders didn’t play hard in free agency yet leaving them more questions than answers so far.
The Oakland Raiders began the legal tampering period yesterday by cutting cornerback Sean Smith and right tackle Marshall Newhouse. Those moves free up $10.75 million in cap space, and leaves the Raiders with more needs including at cornerback where Gareon Conley as the sole starter at the position for the 2018 season.
Throw in the doubts and recent reports about T.J. Carrie‘s status, and suddenly the Raiders have more needs in the defensive backfield – a position solution that has eluded Oakland General Manager Reggie McKenzie during his entire tenure.
Undoubtedly Oakland will address these needs in the April amateur draft but what about NFL free agency? We’ve seen a slew of signings in the first two days – many of which the Raiders couldn’t afford to sign due to the aforementioned salary cap position.
Other Questions Remain as Well
Another question that still has yet to be answered regards the status of linebacker NaVarro Bowman. Bowman was a timely and successful signing by McKenzie last year after the former All Pro player was released by cross-bay San Francisco. With no new deal on the books, Bowman is expected to hit NFL free agency on Wednesday at 1pm PT. It would not be the first time that McKenzie has let a player test the market, only to bring that player back into the fold. The last time that happened was with left tackle Donald Penn in 2016. There is still time to do a deal with Bowman who was reported to be of high priority for the Raiders to resign entering last offseason.
If Bowman and the Raiders can’t strike a new deal, it leaves a gaping hole at middle linebacker with only Marquel Lee to fill it. He was the Raiders fifth round selection in 2017 and showed some ability but would not be the type of player to anchor the defense like Bowman. If Bowman is gone, expect the Raiders to select a middle linebacker in rounds two through four with an outside chance of the first round. That would put a serious strain on draft plans as defensive back is such a glaring need already.
With the signing of journeyman wide receiver Griff Whalen yesterday by Oakland, don’t expect much. Whalen will be entering his seventh NFL season and has collected 51 catches for 532 yards with four separate teams over that time. This is not the exciting kind of free agent signing Raider Nation is hoping for. Whalen will be given an opportunity to compete for punt returner and the Raiders need to fill a 90 man roster currently, which is most likely the reason they picked him up.
Like at defensive back, there are more questions than answers at the wide receiver position too. Big name receivers, like Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry are off the boards. Many others are as well. One of that last decent names left is Paul Richardson, and as of the publication of this story, all indications point to him signing with the Washington Redskins. It seems the Raiders – and their cap constraints – will perhaps address the position in the draft. It’s very possible current wide receiver Michael Crabtree could remain beyond the draft. His $7.8M price tag seems cheap compared to the money that is flowing right now in free agency. The Raiders need long term answers at this position beyond Amari Cooper. Maybe the Raiders take a look at Jordan Matthews, but will he come at a discounted rate to fit Oakland’s budget.
Additional transactions for the Raiders on Monday were:
- Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio was tendered.
- Guard Denver Kirkland was tendered.
- Linebacker Shilique Calhoun was tendered.
The Las Vegas Raiders Report will continue to keep you informed during this free agency period so stay tuned.