Oakland likely to be key player in free agency

Mike Renner identifies which players the Oakland Raiders should re-sign, let walk, and target in free agency.

| 7 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Oakland likely to be key player in free agency


The 2016 offseason will be a defining one in the tenure of GM Reggie McKenzie. The franchise, as a whole, is poised to take the next step into the ranks of perennial contender, but they’ll have to make good use of their projected $75+ million in cap space to get there.

Below are the free agents that the Raiders should re-sign, let walk, and target on the open market.

(Editor’s note: This article was updated on Feb. 29, 2016, following the re-signing of P Marquette King.)

Re-sign

LT Donald Penn and OLB Aldon Smith

The Raiders have three impending free agents that amassed 500+ snaps in 2015 (Donald Penn, Aldon Smith, and J’Marcus Webb), as well as five other restricted free agents in waiting. Of those players, only Aldon Smith and Donald Penn are guys that really need to be retained. They’ve already taken the moral plunge on Smith, and with nine games remaining on his suspension, he should be back for far less than his skills are worth. Penn, on the other hand, is 33, and still one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the league. It shouldn’t take too much to resign the veteran tackle, and all signs point to him still being productive.

Let walk

G J’Marcus Webb

J’Marcus Webb obviously fits in here. He was a last-ditch effort last offseason to fill a need on the offensive line, and the results were less than stellar. Webb would finish as the 70th-best guard in 2015.

WR Andre Holmes

There are a number of part-time guys that aren’t necessarily critical to keep around, most notably wide receiver Andre Holmes, who is only a year removed from being a starter. His -9.8 cumulative grade over the last two seasons was the lowest on the Raiders’ roster, and with Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper in place, Holmes becomes easily expendable.

Target

With so much cap space, the Raiders can—and probably will—go a number of different ways. In the past few seasons, they’ve added big name and big money talent in Michael Crabtree and Rodney Hudson. But they’ve also hit on some mid-tier guys like Dan Williams and Donald Penn. Reggie McKenzie has proven to have a fairly sharp eye in his pro scouting department. With glaring needs at safety, linebacker, and cornerback, here are a few names at each that I’d take a hard look at.

LB Danny Trevathan

Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith were not the cures the Raiders were looking for at the position. Lofton is a likely candidate to be cut, and a nice replacement for him would be the Broncos’ Danny Trevathan. He’s only 26 years old, and has a +26.3 cumulative grade over his last two healthy seasons, impacting both the run and pass.

S Eric Weddle

Replacing Charles Woodson won’t be easy, but this is a position ripe with talent in free agency where they could make a splash. The most likely candidate comes from another division rival, and it’s Eric Weddle. He’s been PFF’s highest-graded safety twice in his career, and is almost certain to leave the Chargers this offseason. At 31 years old, he’ll have a handful of good years still left, and could seamlessly replace Woodson.

CB Trumaine Johnson or CB Brandon Boykin

Josh Norman is obviously a pipe dream here, but without a whole lot invested in the position outside of former first-rounder D.J. Hayden, Oakland may be wise to go after multiple mid-level cornerbacks. Trumaine Johnson and Brandon Boykin are unlikely to command big money, but both will be massive upgrades at the position. Boykin is one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league, but was underutilized in Pittsburgh last year. Johnson was quietly one of the stingiest cornerbacks in the NFL in St. Louis last season, allowing only a 55.0 passer rating when targeted, the second-best figure in the league. He’s also likely to command far less money than his counterpart Janoris Jenkins.

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Tim Edell

    I disagree that Trumaine Johnson won’t command big money in FA. With so many teams having a need for a CB and with money to spend I think teams will overpay for a 6-2 CB that every team is looking for size at that position. Last year Davon House, a seldom used CB with a high upside, was given a 4 year 24.5 million contract with 10 million guaranteed from the Jaguars. Trumaine Johnson who played at a high level this year IMO will be looking at a 4 year 38-40 million type of contract.

  • Thec

    Weddle is done….Pass

  • Alfredo Cota

    Getting all 3 of them (Trevathan, Weddle and T. Johnson) would be huge!

  • John Thomas

    Trevathan would be nice, but I think Oakland is going to give Heeney every chance to succeed in the middle and keep Smith on the outside. And I don’t think Oakland needs Weddle if they move Carrie to safety. Johnson would be a great pickup and no to Boykin. He’s on par with DJ Hayden and I think we’ve already seen how that works.

    • codered5

      You aren’t giving Dj Hayden the credit he deserves. Both in grade and from watching him you can see he’s a top 3 worse corner in the league. Boykin is no where near that even if you see him as average to below average. To suggest putting th Carrie at safety would be equivalent to Eric meddle is ridiculous. Carrie didn’t even play free safety last year bonehead. Woodson played deep safety all year while Carrie played some strong, so you have no reason to believe Carrie is capable of doing that job

      • theflanman420420 .

        Top 3 worse corner? Spoken like a true raider fan…

        • John Rettberg

          There’s ignorance in every fan base douche. Not every Raider fan is uneducated. Go worry about your own loser team and let us Raider fans get back to doing what we do best, and that’s represent our team with passion and loyalty. RNFL!

          • crosseyedlemon

            I’m not sure name calling is necessary to prove you are passionate about your team and it’s not as though he committed the ultimate transgression and suggested Ken Stabler didn’t deserve to be inducted into Canton.
            As far as loyalty goes I guess that will be tested if the Raiders opt to leave Oakland after next year.

        • codered5

          I meant that in a humorous way. Like saying something like “failed with flying colors”. It’s meant to accentuate how bad sone thing is in a humorous way.

  • raider_harvey

    Trevathon, weddle, and at least one cb would be great. With resigning Penn this would allow us to go best player available in the draft and not be forced to reach. Also these are the kind of signings Reggie likes, not going to cripple us down the line.

  • Carlos Aguilar

    They need a good 3rd down back really bad as well. Murray needs to be rotated and Helu and Taiwan Jones just didnt deliver.

  • crosseyedlemon

    You state replacing Charles Woodson won’t be easy and then in the time it takes to do a back flip say he can be replaced seamlessly. Are you even reading what you write here Mike?

  • Giddy Up

    With $74M to spend, there is nothing that should keep Reggie from getting the players he needs and wants.

    • Dan Y

      Except for those players not wanting to come to Oakland…..this year….or wherever they go to next? Worst thing about the franchise right now, that uncertainty.

      • James Piano

        Go figure we are up and coming. Not like years past when we couldn’t offer a big mac.

  • sl schwieg

    Sign:
    OT- Schroeder (ATL) and Penn
    DL- Malik Jackson
    LB- Aldon Smith
    CB- T Johnson and Casey Hayward
    S- Weddle and Illoka

    draft:
    MLB
    DL
    OT
    RB
    OG

    • david nordstrom

      MLB will be a FA pick (Travathon) IMO. There aren’t any unless we take Ragland IF he is there
      @ #1 & he shows greatness right outta the gate!

  • bill jaffe

    getting a Safety, Weddle, and 2 CB’s would be smart and if possible at least one G or T to help buy time for a draft pick to get ready would be ideal

  • Al Afonso Capone

    If Mario Edwards Jr. neck isn’t good, I would also target Mailk Jackson