There is no question that with over $66 million in salary cap space that the Oakland Raiders are open for business, but is that enough to take the gamble they have?
Refusal to tag Lamarr Houston or Jared Veldheer could cost them
Going 4-12 typically means a team was just bad all around but like any team with a bad record there is always one or two standouts who still managed to have good seasons. Defensive end Lamarr Houston is a perfect example, having posted a career high six sacks and remained the steady force against the run he’s been since entering the league. The other is left tackle Jared Veldheer. Granted, an injury during the 2013 preseason forced him to not return until week 13 of the regular season but he remains one of the better left tackles in the league. That the Raiders would not use the franchise tag on either one of those players is interesting to say the least, and potentially inviting disaster. While interest has certainly been expressed from both the Veldheer and Houston camps to return to Oakland, anybody should know NFL free agency can be awfully alluring. A perfect example is Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos put him on the market due to the infamous Faxgate mishap but fully expected to re-sign him. Instead the pass rusher turned around and bolted for Baltimore. Though Denver still reached the Super Bowl, it’s fair to wonder what might’ve been different if Dumervil were still on the team. The same situation faces the Raiders with Veldheer and Houston.
Losses of such players would alter NFL Draft plans for Reggie McKenzie
Beyond simply losing good players is the unforeseen impact it might have on the entire battle plan for the Oakland Raiders front office heading into the NFL draft. There is no immediate guarantee GM Reggie McKenzie will be able to replace Veldheer at left tackle or Houston at end in free agency give how thin each pool is. That could throw a serious wrench into the growing belief that the Silver and Black could target a quarterback in the first round. Losing Veldheer might force McKenzie to instead look at Greg Robinson out of Auburn or Jake Matthews from Texas A&M. Losing Houston would immediately open the conversation for pursuing Jadeveon Clowney or Kony Ealy, especially since the crop of 4-3 defensive ends in the 2014 class is rather thin. The bottom line is that the overall plan for Oakland must’ve been to get the roster to a certain point where they could afford to take a quarterback early. Losing either Jared Veldheer or Lamarr Houston might ruin everything. They are gambling an awful lot on their wealth of cap space and negotiating leverage, which last checked isn’t that great.