6 Biggest Free Agency Rumors Surrounding The Oakland Raiders
6 Biggest Free Agency Rumors
Here we are, just days away from the official start of the feeding frenzy known as the 2014 free agency period. With some big names out there for the taking -- for the right price -- there are various players linked with various teams throughout the league. The closer we get to the opening of the free agency window, the faster the rumor mill seems to be churning.
It's really to be expected this time of year, it's almost like Christmas. And with the most money in the league to spend, Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie will most definitely be playing the part of Santa Claus. But what -- or rather who -- will the Raiders find sitting under their tree? That's the question that remains to be answered. We've already seen them sign a couple of their veterans to contracts, thus addressing a few issues the team has. But given that McKenzie has been engaged in a “burn it to the ground, then build it back up again” strategy since he arrived, there are many more holes that need to be plugged.
With more than $60 million dollars to operate with, the Raiders will be the biggest players on the free agent market this offseason. However, the question is, even with the promise of a pretty significant payday, will McKenzie be able to lure marquee free agents to the Bay Area as the Raiders are rebuilding? With so much money to operate with -- not to mention a full draft class -- the rebuilding process might not be as long as some think. If they're able to pull the right strings in the draft and in free agency, the Raiders might have a legitimate shot at the post season this year. Stop laughing -- with a few impact players in the right spots, it's absolutely possible.
Until we have something definitive from the team regarding who they're actually pursuing in free agency, we have nothing more than rampant rumors and idle speculation about players, scenarios and what they think the team should be doing, which is fun -- it gives Raider fans something to scream at one another about.
With that in mind then, here are just a few of the bigger rumors surrounding the Raiders in the run-up to the free agency window opening...
6. The Raiders Will Sign BJ Raji
The idea that the Raiders could pursue BJ Raji hasn't gotten a ton of traction, but it is a distinct possibility.
Reggie McKenzie knows Raji from their time together with the Green Bay Packers, and he's a big, stout defensive lineman. Raji has had a couple of rough seasons, recording no sacks or forced fumbles, but a change of scenery, not to mention a change in defensive scheme, could pay big dividends for both Raji and the Raiders.
An added bonus is that because of his less than productive stats over the last two seasons, Raji's price tag will be drastically lower. If the Raiders can pick him up and put him in a defensive scheme where he can use his talents a little better than he was able to in Green Bay, Raji could be a real steal for the Silver and Black.
5. The Raiders Will Make a Strong Push to Sign Jared Allen
With Jared Allen set to hit the open market, his name has been prominently featured in rumors that have the Raiders making a hard push for his services. Some consider him to be in the twilight of his career, and he has ties to the area, so some believe he's going to make the sentimental decision to come to Oakland to finish out his playing days. It's possible.
Despite the fact that some think he's lost a step, he still rang up 11.5 sacks in 2013. It's a far cry from the 22 he tallied in 2011, but he's been a lethal pass rusher his whole career, and has put up double digit sack totals in eight of his 10 seasons in the NFL. However, that sort of productivity will come at a price, and Allen is expected to rake in a boatload of cash from whoever signs him. The thrifty McKenzie is not likely to pay an exorbitant amount for any one single player, which might make pursuing Allen a little less likely. Though he's also looking to make a bit of a splash this offseason, so it's not outside the realm of possibility either.
4. Terrelle Pryor and Denarius Moore Will Be Shipped Out of Oakland
Though technically not free agents, the rumors surrounding the Raiders and the possibility that they might be shipping Denarius Moore and/or Terrelle Pryor out of town just won't die down.
In Moore, they have a sometimes dynamic, but most of the time inconsistent receiver. When he's on, he's fantastic. When he's not, he's more of a liability than anything. Also, with the emergence of Rod Streater and Andre Holmes last season -- plus the speculation that the Raiders will be taking receiver Sammy Watkins with the fifth overall pick in the draft -- Moore and his inconsistency becomes a little more expendable. He's playing out the final year of his rookie contract and it's not likely that McKenzie has an extension in his pocket for Moore, which means that he very well might be trade bait. The Raiders might be able to nab a late round pick for him, and given that they are building on the fly, stockpiling draft picks can only help.
After Terrelle Pryor fizzled last season and proved that he's not the quarterback of the future for the team, McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen started looking at life without Pryor on the roster. They are rumored to be targeting a quarterback in the draft, be it Fresno's Derek Carr, UCF's Blake Bortles, or even Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, and already have a capable QB in Matt McGloin on the roster, along with veteran pick up Trent Edwards. They aren't likely to carry four QBs on the roster, and since they seem a little higher on McGloin as a backup going into the season, Pryor becomes expendable, and thus, trade bait.
It's been rumored that Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in him, and the Cleveland Browns are said to be as well. If they can get a late round pick for Pryor, all the better. But either way, it's not likely that he'll be on the Raiders' roster when camp opens.
3. Charles Woodson May Have Taken His Last Ride in the NFL
Dennis Allen and the Raiders still seem to be pretty high on veteran defensive back Charles Woodson.
In 2013, he proved that he is still an effective defender and that he has immeasurable value as a team leader and mentor. However, there are concerns about his age -- he'll be 38 in October and has a lot of mileage on his body. Still, he had a contract last season that was low base, heavy in incentives, and Woodson earned most, if not all, of those incentives to bring his pay to a little more than $3 million for the season.
Woodson said he definitely plans to play in 2014, and Allen has said that he'd like the veteran to come back for another season. Now, it's just a question of whether or not the numbers match up -- the numbers being a fair salary and Woodson's age. Woodson has said that if the numbers don't add up for him, he is prepared to retire. In an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, Woodson said, “If the right numbers don't come across for myself and from the team standpoint, it's a serious consideration, at this point, that I could've played my last season in the NFL .”
Woodson showed last season that he still has something left in the tank. Trying to sign him to the type of deal they had him on, a low base with heavy incentives, could be the sort of low risk/high reward deal that could really benefit the club. If not, we've likely seen the last of Woodson in the NFL.
2. Darren McFadden Back in Black
After six seasons in which Darren McFadden showed glimpses of greatness, but ultimately spent more time in the training room than on the field, Raider fans breathed a sigh of relief when McKenzie said he would let the running back hit the open market. The Raiders would finally be free of the largely unproductive McFadden and his enormous contract. However, then came word that McFadden's representatives met with the Raiders during the Combine in Indianapolis and Dennis Allen's comments about being open to McFadden's return to the team, and Raider fans were left asking, why? Haven't we seen this act before? He has enormous talent, but is incredibly fragile.
The money they would spend on McFadden would be better spent on a running back like Rashad Jennings, or in some people's thinking, Chris Johnson. Either way, throwing more money at McFadden would be like throwing it straight into the toilet -- the return on investment will be about the same.
Still, with speculation that he would land in Cincinnati and reunite with Hue Jackson, under whom McFadden had his most productive season as a pro, turning out to have gone nowhere -- reports indicate that he will not be landing in Cincy -- the rumors have come back around to the Raiders re-signing McFadden, which would be a mistake and a big waste of money. If the team is desperate to throw a few million bucks at a guy for sitting in the training room, we're pretty sure we could find a few million people willing to take on that role.
1. Michael Vick Will Be the New Franchise QB
This has been one of the more persistent rumors for quite some time now, primarily because the Raiders have a perceived desperate need at quarterback, and Michael Vick happens to be the best of the crop of free agent quarterbacks in 2014, which might not be saying a whole lot given that the pickings are so slim this offseason.
Vick has seemingly grown and matured quite a bit over the years -- we imagine time in prison can help a guy with that -- as he truly handled himself with the whole Nick Foles situation incredibly well, better than a lot of quarterbacks in the league would have. Vick is not a bad quarterback necessarily, but he's most definitely not the right fight for the Raiders, and bringing him in to run the team would be a mistake for a number of different reasons, the least of which is the fact that as he's gotten older, his style of play has taken its toll on his body, and he's becoming a little more injury prone. Plus, as the team is constructed now, they're not at all well suited to a running and gunning quarterback, which is part of the reason Terrelle Pryor isn't the right fit for the team.
If they want that style of QB, they already have him in Pryor, who is younger -- and more cost effective -- than Vick, and probably has a few more years left in his legs than the veteran. If they're planning on trading or releasing Pryor, and there is every indication that they are, bringing in Vick would make no sense at all, especially at the price tag he'll be carrying.