Nov 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) is sacked by Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Can the Oakland Raiders Salvage NFL Free Agency?

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.

Tags: Anthony Collins Hakeem Nicks Henry Melton NFL Free Agency Oakland Raiders Walter Thurmond

  • Kevin Lurker

    Im curious to hear where they plan to use Saffold.

    • Erik Lambert

      Seemed to have better success at guard.

      • Kevin Lurker

        Thats where I see him but that was LT $ he got. Were all in the dark as to Watson as well. Drafted to play LT.

        • Erik Lambert

          Probably an open competition at this point. Whoever performs best in that role gets the job. Or they could simply bring it all together by going after Matthews or Lewan in the draft.

          • gary Adkins

            4-12 again

          • Erik Lambert

            That’s the spirit, Gary.

          • Kevin Lurker

            Thanks. Now I want Hatcher and then Aaron Donald.

          • friendship220

            Aaron Donald definitely. It’s unlikely at this point that he’d be taken by the 5 spot. I like Clowney and Robinson as well, but they might be gone by the 5. If the Raiders trade down, they might still be able to get Donald, plus another good player or players. The players the Raider-hating media wants the Raiders to pick I don’t think are any better than the ones slotted 5 or so down. I’d rather have Mike Evans than Sammy Watkins for one. I don’t want any of the “top” QBs. I don’t want a finesse / technique OT pass blocker, like Matthews or Lewan, but a run blocking T/G who might be available in the 2nd or 3rd, if not Robinson.

          • friendship220

            It’s spelled “Greg Robinson”

            What we saw yesterday with the Saffold and Howard signings was the fix for the main problem last year. No holes in the line for Dmac to run through.

            Saffold was a good to great run blocker at the Right Guard spot last year.

            Saffold games at Right Guard – yards rushing / Win or Loss

            Chicago 11/24 – 258 / W
            San Francisco 12/1 – 114 / L
            New Orleans 12/15 – 144 / W
            Tampa Bay 12/22 – 129 / W

            PFF named Saffold to their all NFC West team at Right Guard.

            There is versatility there, very good pass blocking from Left Tackle,
            excellent run blocking from Right Guard.

          • Kevin Lurker

            Robinson is a beast, a hungry beast. That would add further weight on that line. Howard is 330.

          • James Schroeder

            I like the Saffold signing if he can stay healthy. 21 mil guaranteed isn’t bad. I’ve been seeing a lot of players, talented players get sucked up by other teams but at the end of the day theres a lot of loudmouth crybabies who just want a huge payday. I think the Raiders are playing it smart being conservative. Being aggressive is what got them into this mess in the first place. Let teams like the Broncos spent 57 million on a cornerback, and 30 million on a once upon a time great linebacker at the end of his career who had a bum knee last year and failed to make the probowl for the first time. People might think the Broncos are winning free agency but if you ask me they’re also losing a lot of talented players and in this act of desperation they’re going to find themselves in the same salary cap hell the Raiders were in. Rm’s going to sit back and watch all the teams make a mess of things throwing their money around and he’s going to play it safe and play it smart and he’s going to build this team and structure this team the way they initially intended to. Besides I don’t know why everybody’s getting their panties in a bunch. Everybody knew from day one Reggie McKenzie was all about building this team through the draft and
            thought very little of free agency. That’s the way it should be. why overpaying for prima donnas when you could bring in young new fresh talented players at a fraction of the cost.

          • KloverJane

            Resigned by St Louis

          • Chris Schroeder

            Looks like they realized they made a mistake. oh well, hope they get it right next time. I’m not buying the whole “injured shoulder” bit. It’s clear they panicked when they lost Veldeer and made this boneheaded bloated contract move as a result. Sorry I was even trying to make sense of it. So hard to be optimistic when you’re team gives you nothing to be optimistic about

          • KloverJane

            Someone is selling snake oil… Saffold bench-pressed 400 pounds the other day. Or so I read.

        • friendship220

          Watson is an athlete. 4 years ago, he had never played football, and he just finished his first and only season playing DI College Basketball with Marist. His best game was 12/7/10 against Rutgers, 15 points, 8 rebounds, 31 minutes. 4/9 from the floor 7/7 free throws.

          Watson started playing football (he had no idea about Football, being British) in June 2011 at Saddleback College.
          2012 – Florida State
          2013 – Raiders

          He isn’t in the NFL because of mastery of technique, he likely could play anywhere on the line, and as a big, blocking TE as well.

  • KloverJane

    We just suck. The team is cursed…seriously can’t we just get some big name guys? No more mediocrity.

    • Erik Lambert

      Even the guy you paid already flopped.

      • KloverJane

        If you mean the voided Saffold, then not a cent went.

        • Erik Lambert

          True, but if the plan was to bolster the offensive line, your options are limited now.

          • KloverJane

            Somehow Catch 22 comes to mind.