5 Underrated Free Agents Oakland Raiders Should Target This Offseason
5 Underrated Free Agents The Raiders Should Target
The Oakland Raiders will enter the 2014 free agency period coming off a second consecutive 4-12 season and appear to be stuck in neutral. The Raiders haven't put together a winning record for 11 years, and second-year head coach Dennis Allen is under immense pressure to turn things around next season. If progress is not made, Allen is at risk of becoming the fifth Raiders coach to be let go in just nine years.
The positive news for Raiders Nation is the healthy salary cap situation Oakland finds itself in. With an estimated $63 million at their disposal, the Raiders have the largest amount of cap space in the league with around $10 million more than second-placed Jacksonville Jaguars. The negative aspect of the situation is the vast array of weaknesses which need to be addressed.
Oakland were poor on both sides of the ball in 2013, ranking 24th in points scored and 28th in points conceded, while the defense allowed an average of 255.8 passing yards per game. Of course, playing the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers twice a year is going to damage the pass defense statistics of any team.
The 2014 NFL Draft will be crucial for the organization’s rebuilding process. Sitting with the fifth overall pick, Oakland has a reputation for making poor draft choices (Darrius Heyward-Bey, anyone?) and need to have a better strategy this time around. Other gaps will require filling through the free agency market, and these five underrated players should be on the Raiders’ target list.
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5. Arthur Jones
The Raiders’ defensive line is notoriously soft, and the addition of Baltimore Raven’s defensive end Arthur Jones would be a sound investment. Jones has been a consistent performer with the Ravens over the last four seasons, and is expected to become a cap casualty during the offseason as a number of high-profile players need to be re-signed.
4. Cassius Vaughn
Both Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins have come to the end of their respective one-year contracts, leaving a massive hole in the Raiders’ secondary. Indianapolis Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn had the most productive season of his four-year career, intercepting three passes and forcing a fumble in 2013. The Colts are in the market for a cornerback themselves, suggesting Vaughn’s time in Indiana could be reaching its conclusion. He would be a suitable replacement for Porter or Jenkins should either depart from Oakland.
3. Quintin Demps
If 16-year veteran Charles Woodson parts ways with the Raiders over the coming months, Kansas City Chiefs free safety Quintin Demps would be a welcomed addition to the roster. Demps signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs prior to the 2013 season and featured in every game for the red and gold. He finished the season with a career-high four interceptions, and the 28-year-old looks set to join a fourth different team in seven years.
2. Rashard Mendenhall
With running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings hitting free agency, the Raiders are sure to add depth during the offseason. Rashard Mendenhall had a highly productive year with the Arizona Cardinals, rushing for 687 yards and eight touchdowns as part of a one-two punch with Andre Ellington. Should the Cardinals fail to re-sign the 26-year old, he would be a good fit in Oakland.
1. Josh Freeman
The Raiders’ quarterback situation is murky at best with several potential outcomes still on the table. If the free agent market is a viable option, Josh Freeman would be a solid acquisition. Despite obvious troubles in Minnesota this year, Freeman is just 26-years old and could offer some veteran leadership entering his sixth year in the league.
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