It’s been a while since I’ve contributed around here, so bare with me a little. I was thinking about grading the Raiders free agent signings individually in the comments section, but quickly realized we had a ton of signings and that it’d probably be best if I write an article instead. Pull a little of my own weight around here.
Much has been made of the signings in Oakland as Jon Gruden begins his tenure, that he’s following the same old recipe as his last stop. Opting for aging veterans, than the youth that typically wins out in today’s NFL. I think it’s all overblown, and just writers looking to generate clicks, and right now there are few things in the NFL that will generate more clicks than a Raiders hot take.
Lets take a look at all of the Raiders free agency moves heading into the last few weeks before the draft.
CB Rashaan Melvin – A+ – The biggest need the Raiders had going into the offseason was at cornerback, and the Raiders added a guy that was a lockdown corner in 2017 on a cheap 1 year, $6.5M prove it deal. One of the best signings in all of free agency this offseason.
S Marcus Gilchrist – A- – The Raiders added a solid veteran DB on another small 1 year, $4.5M contract in Gilchrist. Gilchrist logged over 100 snaps at S, LB, and slot CB in 2017. Paul Guenther needed that versatility in his secondary given all the question marks it had when he agreed to be the team’s new DC.
S/CB Leon Hall – A- – A sneaky good signing by the Raiders, given Hall’s plethora of experience in Guenther’s defense. Hall can contribute in many ways off the field, and can still contribute in a limited capacity on the field as well.
LB Tahir Whitehead – B+ – One of the Raiders other big needs was at LB. Whitehead is another player that adds a lot of versatility with his ability to play all 3 LB positions in Guenther’s defense. The only reason this grade isn’t higher is due to the size of contract Oakland doled out, 3 years $18M.
WR Jordy Nelson – B – One of the bigger surprises so far this offseason, was replacing the often controversial Michael Crabtree with a more calming presence in Jordy Nelson. Given the size of the contracts that were being handed out to WR’s this free agency, Oakland has to feel good about getting Nelson for 2 years and $15M despite his age. I didn’t see a player that lost much of a step in his advanced age, I’m only a little hesitant about the signing because of Jordy’s injury history.
LB Kyle Wilber – B – Wilber adds some versatility to the Raiders depth chart, but more importantly he’s been a rock in the Cowboys special teams units since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 draft.
DE Tank Carradine – B – No risk signing with some upside. Solid depth along the defensive line with some ability to contribute in ST’s.
WR/KR Dewayne Harris – B- – A solid Patterson replacement, I haven’t seen the details of this contract, but I’m assuming its in the $2-3M range annually.
FB Keith Smith – C+ – I was originally pretty high on this pickup, trading an overpaid fullback in Olawale for some draft positioning and a cheaper, better run blocking FB in Smith…. but then I saw the Raiders gave Smith a 2 year $4.2M contract.
RB Doug Martin – C – Again, little risk with some upside. If Martin makes the team, it will be because he looks like 4.9 YPC Doug Martin, and not 2.9 YPC Doug Martin in training camp.
CB Shareece Wright – C – I think you could do worse at #4/5 CB than Shareece Wright. Nothing flashy, but a decent add.
OT Breno Giocamini – D+ – The guy is not good. I have a sneaky suspicion that he will actually make the team, and be relied upon at times, which I don’t like. Hopefully the younger guys step up in training camp. I think the ability is there for Sharpe, Kirkland, Alexander and Ware, they just have to do it.
Other FA signings that I’m not going to bother elaborating on S Reggie Nelson, QB EJ Manuel, QB Josh Johnson, LB Emmanuel Lamur, P Colby Wadman, LS Andrew Depaola, TE Derek Carrier, TE Lee Smith, WR/KR Griff Whalen.
Oakland has been busy this offseason. I thought the Raiders did a solid job adding a few starters and key contributors at positions of need but maybe more importantly rounding out the bottom of the roster with high character veterans. I think McKenzie and Gruden raised the floor of the Raiders depth chart significantly on financially savvy deals. The moves should buy management a couple/few years to hopefully add more difference makers via the draft, something they haven’t been able to accomplish the last couple years.