According to ESPN, the Oakland Raiders are estimated to be $69 million under the cap for the 2014 season. After shedding several back-loaded contracts with Michael Huff, Carson Palmer, Darrius Hayward-Bey and Tommy Kelly, you can tell what G.M. Reggie McKenzie has been planning. When you throw in the cuts of Kamerion Wimbley and Stanford Routt last offseason, it makes his objectives abundantly clear.
It is currently uncertain whether the Raiders will have $69 million exactly, but it is assured that Oakland will have a vast amount of spending space for the 2014 offseason. With that amount of available space, Oakland could virtually go after anyone they desire. Don’t expect McKenzie to go wild during free agency, though, expect him to use the philosophy of building from within–as he did with the Green Bay Packers.
As of now, the only players for the Raiders that could see a long-term extension from McKenzie are most likely running back Darren McFadden, offensive linemen Stefen Wisniewski and Jared Veldheer, defensive tackle Lamarr Houston and possibly wide receiver Denarius Moore.
The biggest names available in 2014 will likely be wide receivers Victor Cruz, Jeremy Maclin and Hakeem Nicks. Tight end Jimmy Graham will be a prized commodity. Offensive linemen Ryan Clady, Eugene Monroe, Eric Wood, Alex Mack, Matt Slauson and Michael Oher. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins should command a high price-tag. Linebackers Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing and Brian Orakpo could find themselves available. As for secondaries, Charles Tillman, Tarell Brown, Sam Shields, Tim Jennings and Aqib Talib should be marquee targets. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be a free agent at the end of next season. The same goes for quarterback Matt Ryan–but he’ll surely be locked up by Atlanta.
Names like Graham, Clady, Cruz should command top-tier contracts that could range over $100 million collectively. Other than them, Oakland could find themselves in the running for each and every available free agent. Building a young and talented team is key. Teams like the Packers under McKenzie and the current Seattle Seahawks, are diagrams of how to build a winning franchise.
Take a close look at the Seahawks roster. Not one starter for Seattle is above 30-years-old. McKenzie has Oakland becoming younger and richer. 2013 could prospectively be a rough season for the Raiders, but brighter days are definitely on the horizon.
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