This is the year that Reggie McKenzie has been waiting for. It didn’t look like he’d make it to this point. His strategy of signing veterans to small, cap-friendly, year-to-year contracts almost got him fired, but his savvy drafting this past may kept him alive.There are no contracts from the Al Davis era holding down the Raiders. And now it’s time to spend that money.
The Raiders will have $60 million to work with this offseason. That number could easily grow to $75 million by cutting the dead weight of Matt Schaub, Lamarr Woodley and Maurice Jones-Drew. With a potential franchise QB behind center, the Raiders are in a great position to make a run at the most coveted free agents in a class loaded with young talent.
But before the free agency madness can begin, the Raiders need to take care of a couple of in-house contracts that are expiring. The Raiders have 11 unrestricted free agents but only really need to re-sign two players.
C- Stefan Wisniewski
Priority #1: The legacy Raider isn’t on the same level as Alex Mack or Ryan Kalil, but he is definitely an above average center. He anchored a line that ranked 3rd in pass protection according to Football Outsiders, but was 28th in run blocking. Wisniewski was also plagued by a couple of botched QB-Center exchanges, but that should be cleared up with more familiarity between Carr and himself.
Pros: Wisniewski is a young, reliable center that shouldn’t cost the Raiders a lot of money to keep. At only 25, Wisniewski has a lot of room to improve his game and form chemistry with Carr. Along with LG Gabe Jackson and RG Austin Howard (23 and 27 respectively) this young interior line can grow into something special.
Cons: Stefan hasn’t shown much improvement after a solid rookie year. Reggie McKenzie has shown that he is going to do things his own way, especially when it comes to the offensive line. Stefan Wisniewski is one of the few Al Davis draft picks left on the roster and may be headed the way of Jared Veldheer.
Projected contract: 4 years, $22 million. $8 Million guaranteed.
FS- Charles Woodson
Pros: Charles Woodson is 38 years old, but you wouldn’t know it by watching last year’s tape. The Raiders legend was flying around the field and looking like the best player on a defense that had rookie of the year candidate Khalil Mack. He led the raiders with 4 interceptions and 81 tackles in addition to being the team’s leader and fan favorite. Next year will surely be Woodson’s last, but having him one more year will give McKenzie more time to find a long term answer at FS.
Cons: What could go wrong with signing a 38 year old? There is obviously a risk with his body breaking down. He also isn’t getting any faster. In a game of inches, losing a step can make all the difference.
Projected contract: 1 year, $3.2 million.
Other possible re-signings:
CB- Tarell Brown
Brown signed a “show me” one-year deal in Oakland last year and didn’t perform. There is not much depth at cornerback on the Raiders, so he could be back on another one year contract.
RB- Darren McFadden
Maurice Jones-Drew is going to be cut and the Raiders will need some sort of depth behind Demarco Murray. McFadden won’t have many suitors if he hits free agency, so his best bet might be to re-sign with Oakland.