Week one of free agency is in the books, and even though only four days have elapsed, a lot has transpired. Teams with losing records are scooping up players left and right, but the more elite teams have been relatively quiet, save for the New England Patriots. The reigning Super Bowl champs have done what they always do: shock people.
Other than the Pats, only a few playoff teams have made any transactions since Thursday, Raiders included. Oakland only signed one new player in Marshall Newhouse, an offensive tackle from the New York Giants. They lost seven players so far, with six of their players still sitting with unrestricted free agent tags. Soon the question of whether any more players depart will be answered, along with the question that most fans have on their minds. When is Reggie McKenzie going to make a big move?
The Raiders losing all those players seems like it would be a big deal but all in all, it was only a couple million in savings. The reported cap space pre-free agency was between $44 and $50 million. According to http://overthecap.com/salary-cap/oakland-raiders/, the Raiders are carrying a little under $42 million now that these transactions are finalized. How much of that goes into the restructured contract for Derek Carr and how much of it is truly available to spend is the subject of heated debate. Rumors have been floating around for some time now about the enormity of the contract that’s being prepared for star QB Carr, likely making him the highest paid QB in history, bigger than the contract that Andrew Luck signed last year. Carr would be worth more than $140 million if that’s the case. But if anyone has earned it, it’s Derek Carr.
The remaining free agents that are meeting with the Raiders so far are Dontari Poe and Cordarrelle Patterson. There are several other names still out there, but no speculation of the Raiders making any offers. If they happen to drop any more of their free agents, they might be able to grab a player the caliber of Dont’a Hightower, who’s going to ask for big money. Matt McGloin will almost certainly not return for the 2017 season, and Andre Holmes and Mychal Rivera are still question marks. The Raiders may be able to squeeze enough out to make one more move, possibly a big one.
Reggie McKenzie is a smart man and a shrewd business man, facts increasingly more apparent every year that passes with the Raiders. The truth of the matter is that no one can dictate or determine what happens with the money left in the bank, and spectators will likely be disappointed in the results. Last year was fast and furious, signing three of their big contracts in the first two days. More signings trickled in here and there throughout the rest of free agency, including signing veteran safety Reggie Nelson, but McKenzie made most of his big moves the minute he came out of the gates.
2017 has shown different behavior, but it’s not bad behavior. When all’s said and done, the moves that Oakland has already made, signing a new offensive lineman and beefing up their coaching staff, will make a difference. Offense is solid, and they’ve added someone to help where they need it most. Defense is where they get the most criticism. Logically they have all of the pieces they need on defense, save for a couple of weak spots. Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has taken a lot of heat for his poor defensive turnout. It’s time for him to get up off the ground, dust himself off and figure out how to fit all of those pieces together to finish the jigsaw puzzle that’s sitting right in front of him. It can be an amazing one. Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith are better players than the 2016 season showed, and putting them in positions where they can thrive will transform the secondary and allow the team to focus on the major weak spot at middle linebacker.
Fans and analysts are split about McKenzie’s silence since Thursday. Many wonder why he isn’t spending that money, some speculating that he’ll be focusing on the draft, and some even thinking he’s got a sneaky deal already brewing. If he doesn’t, people will wonder what the heck is going on in that front office. There are still true believers that stick to the mantra, “In Reggie We Trust”. We can all agree that passions are high on either side of the argument, but which side is right? Probably a little bit of both, or maybe neither one. Don’t expect any more large contracts to be signed until Derek Carr’s deal is inked. Once we have our foundation, then we can start spending superfluous money, because you gotta pay the bills before you can afford extravagances. So sit back, relax and watch the show. There’s plenty of other circuses going on throughout the league to wish that upon the Raiders.