With all the money the Oakland Raiders have saved up, it is no surprise that they have been active thus far in free agency. They have signed high profile players, but also lost two of their best players from last season.
Let us start with the bad news. The losses of Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer really are very painful. Lamarr Houston, who totaled six sacks last season, was arguably the Raiders best defensive player and Jared Veldheer was the best Raider offensive lineman when he was healthy.
While the loss of Houston hurts, it is the loss of Veldheer that will have the bigger negative effect. Without the hulking Veldheer, an already feeble offensive line gets even more feeble. If the Raiders want to successfully invest in a quarterback, either from the draft or free agency, they will need to shore up their offensive line to ensure that that the quarterback stays healthy and effective. Losing Veldheer just puts them in a bigger hole.
Despite losing such talented players, the Oakland Raiders have enough money to recover from these losses. On the defensive side of the football, the Raiders have decided to put their best foot forward, signing Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, and Tarell Brown. All four of these players are difference makers on the defensive end, and can really help the Raiders suspect pass defense.
Justin Tuck is a solid player who has contributed significantly to the New York Giants Super Bowl teams. He has proven that he is capable of getting after the quarterback, racking up eleven sacks last season. LaMarr Woodley was a staple in the Pittsburgh Steelers stellar defense a couple seasons back. He is regarded as one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL and can be an anchor for the Raiders defensive unit. Antonio Smith has been a reliable force at defensive end for the Houston Texans, racking up 27 sacks over the past four years. Tarell Brown was an integral part of the San Francisco 49ers strong pass defense last year, and will likely start at cornerback for the Raiders in 2014.
The Oakland Raiders have not been quite as active with the offense.
They did fill a need by signing wide receiver James Jones from the Green Bay Packers. As a possession receiver, he is the perfect complement to the plethora of speed receivers currently stuffing the depth chart.
They also tried to solve the offensive line issue by adding guard Kevin Boothe and tackle Austin Howard. Boothe is a decent yet unspectacular player who started last season for the New York Giants. Howard is a talented young player who has started every game for the New York Jets the past two seasons. While it is doubtful either of these players can fill the hole left by Veldheer, both of them can strengthen a weak offensive line and make it at least passable.
The Oakland Raiders organization has seemingly done an effective job in the free agent market. They have made multiple big name, high profile signings as well as less ostentatious, yet equally significant, moves.
Even better for Raiders fans: there is still plenty of money to be spent.
They aren’t done yet.