It would seem having the most salary cap space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Can the Oakland Raiders pick themselves up and get back into the NFL free agency race?
Hakeem Nicks and Anthony Collins offer quality offensive help
As of recent reports the Raiders still have close to $60 million in cap space available. One would think they are going to entice attention from quality free agents at some point and it’s not like the market suddenly went dry after a busy first day. There is still time for the team to accomplish their goals in preparation for an important May draft. On the offensive side they still could use work at wide receiver and on the offensive line. Eric Decker is still an option though he’s visiting the Jets. Meanwhile little has been heard from Hakeem Nicks. The 26-year old has a good history of production despite a tough season in 2013. Having not gotten his payday from the Giants, he might willingly accept one from the Raiders. Up front the team has added a couple of decent bodies in Roger Saffold and Austin Howard but they still could use an upgrade at left tackle. Six-year veteran Anthony Collins is certainly there for the taking. A backup to Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth, he stepped to the forefront on multiple occasions last season and played very well. He’s athletic and big enough to play on the left side and would allow Oakland to pick the best offensive player available in the draft, be it a receiver or quarterback or otherwise.
Henry Melton and Walter Thurmond could lend a hand on defense
The defensive side is somewhat less certain. Having lost Lamarr Houston to Chicago their defensive line is mired in the unknown. They have no real cornerstone up front to build around and still need some attention in the secondary as well. One name they should and do have interest in his defensive tackle Henry Melton. The former Pro Bowler had a forgettable 2013 after tearing his ACL and then getting arrested for assault but in 2012 he was considered one of the best interior pass rushers in the league. At age 27 he’s in his prime and could become that focal point of the line for Reggie McKenzie and the front office to build around provided his knee checks out healthy. Then on the back end they should look to give D.J. Hayden some veteran help. Walter Thurmond didn’t get a lot of press in Seattle playing with Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman but the cornerback did more than his fair share for that Seahawks defense en route to a Super Bowl title. He’s long, athletic and plays excellent press coverage.
The Oakland Raiders haven’t lost out on their chance to make it work in NFL free agency. In order to turn things around they have to start acting like they have the most money to spend, because at the end of the day they do.