5 Players the Oakland Raiders Need to Let Walk This Offseason
When a team goes 4-12, as the Oakland Raiders did for the second consecutive season in 2013, it should be expected that there will be a massive housecleaning. Players who couldn't get the job done are handed their walking papers so that players the team thinks will help right the ship can be brought in. A look at Oakland's roster reveals a host of players who have tremendous potential but for a number of reasons -- be it injury, disinterest or perhaps a gross overestimation of their skill level -- have never lived up to their potential or the team's expectations. That has had a hand in the Raiders' abysmal performance for the last few seasons.
To get the organization headed in the right direction, head coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie have a lot of work to do and a lot of personnel decisions to make this offseason. Whether it be through the draft or free agency, the Raiders will need to address a number of glaring issues. First and foremost, the team must decide on the fate of a number of free agents. With a high draft pick and some room to operate under the salary cap, they can finally begin to put together a team that will help them achieve their goal of turning the Raiders into a winning franchise once again.
With that in mind, here is a list of five free agents Oakland needs to cut ties with so that they can move the team in a better, more productive direction and perhaps post their first winning season since 2002.
5. Jeron Mastrud
With Mychal Rivera proving to be a legitimate receiving threat from the tight end position and Nick Kasa showing that he is an adequate blocker with a lot of upside, Jeron Mastrud has become the odd man out on the Raiders' roster. He's an adequate tight end but is a expendable. With Rivera and Kasa already under contract and both proving to be more than capable tight ends, he's an unnecessary expenditure when his salary and roster spot could be better served by somebody else in an area of need.
4. Mike Jenkins
If there is one word to describe the Raiders' secondary in 2013, it would be “toast.” The Raider corners were burned for big plays regularly and allowed opposing quarterbacks to pick them apart. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles destroyed them in Week 9, tossing for more than 400 yards and seven touchdowns. Though the defensive line absolutely bears some of the blame, the Raiders' secondary was abysmal. And Mike Jenkins was a big part of that.
3. Tracy Porter
Like Jenkins, Tracy Porter also signed to a one-year deal to help shore up a leaky secondary. He didn't help. Porter was torched often and helped lead a defensive secondary that was the 28th best in the 32 team league, giving up more than 250 yards a game. As a unit, the defense gave up 54 touchdowns with opposing quarterbacks throwing for 33 of those. If the Raiders are going to make it back to the playoffs, they desperately need to upgrade a defensive unit that ranked 22nd overall in the league. Letting Porter walk and developing talent either in house already or addressing it through the draft or free agency is the way for the team to go.
2. Jacoby Ford
Though still under contract for another year, Jacoby Ford is another player the Raiders need to part ways with this offseason. His blazing speed and ability to break big plays make it tempting to keep him on the roster, but like McFadden he has a problem staying healthy and being productive. Ford has shown an inability to consistently live up to the flashes of greatness he shows every once in a while. Though a terrific return man, the Raiders would be better served cutting ties with Ford and obtaining a receiver who can be a more consistent contributor in the passing attack.
1. Darren McFadden
Taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Darren McFadden signed a six-year deal worth $60 million and has spent more time in the training room than the team's trainers have. In his six NFL seasons, Darren McFadden has yet to play an entire season, playing a career-high 13 games in 2008 and again in 2010. Despite having a standout collegiate career, McFadden broke 1,000 yards only once in his NFL career and has not even come close to living up to the promise that justified taking him with the No. 4 overall pick. The Raiders need to use the money McFadden will likely command on the open market and put it into running back Rashad Jennings, who proved to be a better back in 2013, as well as in upgrades for other positions.