Gruden and McKenzie Prepare for Free Agency

Free Agency is Coming, Let’s Go Shopping…

As Jon Gruden and Reggie go through the roster to see which new players we need via free agency, Raider Nation and the Pillaging  crew already have an idea which position groups need upgrading. As it stands right now, without paying Khalil Mack or cutting anyone, Oakland has a little over $15 Million in salary available to offer free agents.

Given Gruden’s liking for veteran players, 303 is going to give you his perspective of which players we “Should” go after. Will they go shopping at Whole Foods to get the best ingredients? Knowing Reggie, we’ll most likely shop at Dollar General instead.

Keep in mind, the Raiders have a few of their own players with expiring contracts: TJ Carrie, Justin Ellis, and Denico Autry. It will be an interesting off-season, especially figuring out who is making the final say on who they keep and who they let go.


By releasing Sean Smith, David Amerson, Crabtree, and Marshall Newhouse, we will save nearly $37. I also would have put Marshawn on this list, but with the signing of Tom Cable, maybe the mercurial rusher will fall in line once he meets with his new boss.

With Mack’s imminent extension looming, it is more likely the Raiders will have $20-$25 million. It looks like Oakland will not be targeting any of the big name free agent’s of positions we need. You can probably cross off  names like Trumaine Johnson, Jarvis Landry, and Ziggy Ansah. Those three: CB, WR, DE, are all positions of need but they will command top dollar.

So lets look at a few players I think we should target based upon position of need and their price tag…

Defensive Back:

QB’s in 2017 had their way with our secondary. We did not get our first Interception until the ball eventually landed in Navorro Bowman’s lap, literally. It took a tipped ball from a 3rd string QB for us to get our first pick, that is an ALL-TIME LOW.

The Silver and Black are now in their sixth year under Reggie McKenzie and every year the corner position is an area of need. Whether it was the drafting of DJ Hayden, the signings of Tarell Brown, Carlos Rodgers, David Amerson, and so on, this position group has been a weak link in this defense for quite some time.

Assuming Gareon Conley comes back healthy, Oakland may look to sign a Veteran free agent to add to this unproven group. The potential release of both Amerson and Sean Smith makes this an urgent need.

Here are a few players that could make sense:

Patrick Robinson

Robinson was originally drafted by the Saints in 2010 in RD 1.  He stands at 5’11” and weighs in at 191 lbs. He has bounced around a little playing with San Diego in 2015 then Indy signed him to a 3 year deal in 2016.

After only playing only 1 year in Indy, he was cut in March of 2017. Robinson then signed a one year deal in Philly last year. Patrick would eventually become the Eagles starting nickel back in week 6.

Robinson could come here and compete right away for the #2 or #3 corner as he would be one of the most experienced players in the secondary. He also would not command a big salary so he is a good bet to come in for a talk with Gruden and Reggie assuming Philly does not resign him.

Bashaud Breeland

Maybe Chucky’s brother Jay has some inside info for his big brother. Breeland was taken in the 4th round out of Clemson in the 2014 draft. Breeland stands at 5’11” and weighs in at 195 lbs. He was also a track and field star running the 400 hurdles back in college.

He has 8 career INT’s and 7 FF’s. Breeland has been steady in coverage, playing opposite Josh Norman, which means he gets a lot of activity lined up opposite the perennial All-Pro.

He is another free agent that would not command a huge salary and could come in and compete as a starter for this unit. He had an up and down season in 2016. PFF had him rated as one of the top slot corners in the NFL.

Aqib Talib

Talib is the dark house on this list. Gruden actually drafted Talib out of Kansas back in 2008. The Donkeys have a big decision to make on Talib as they are already paying Chris Harris over $10 million and 4th year pro Bradley Roby is scheduled to make $8.5 million. Therefore, Talib may end up a cap casualty.

Even though Talib turns 32 next month, he is still playing at a high level. Talib has tallied 34 picks and 10 Defensive touchdowns over the course of his career. I know Raider Nation does not like Talib, but he would instantly bring a championship mentality to this secondary that is badly needed. He is a big corner at 6’1′ and 205 lbs. and might be had for a 3rd round pick.

I would assume we will also need to draft a corner within the first 3 rounds so it will be interesting to see what the depth chart looks like as the off-season unfolds.

Wide Receiver:

Is there any other position group that is more frustrating for the S&B than wide receiver? The Raiders WR core has been a group that is near the top for dropped passes for the past 5 years.

Cooper, Crabtree, Roberts, and Holton seem to drop too many passes for our liking. Unfortunately Reggie gave Roberts an extension last summer and cutting him would cost $2 million in dead money so I don’t see us cutting him this year.

A big question will be what do we do with Michael Crabtree? There is no doubt Crabs has caught a lot of big TD’s for us the last few years. Games against Baltimore, San Diego, KC are just a few that come to mind. But this year, Crabs production fell off a cliff.

Gruden loves his veteran WR’s, so he may just come in and keep Crabs. Crabtree is 31 and not getting any younger or faster. Reggie might just add a young WR in the draft.

It’s likely Crabs gets released and we pick up a veteran WR. Here is a name I’d like to see on this roster in 2018:

Allen Robinson

Robinson is a big receiver, standing at 6′ 3″ and 211 pounds. Allen will be just 25 years old this August. Robinson was taken in the 2nd round out of Penn State in 2014. He was the NFL receiving TD co-leader in 2015 with 14 touch downs.

The young receiver is coming off of a torn ACL (Reggie Special!) suffered in 2017 so he might be able to be signed a bit lower than if he was 100% healthy. Robinson has never played with a great quarterback, yet his potential is tremendous.

Defensive Tackle:

Right away Gruden and Reggie have to make a decision with Justin “Jelly” Ellis and Denico “Big Hands” Autry. Both are needed, but my belief is Ellis gets paid too much elsewhere and he walks.

My gut says Oakland keeps Denico as he came on stong during the last half of 2017. The Raiders still need to address the position in free agency. One only needs to look at Jacksonville and Minnesota to understand that you need a stable of DT’s on the roster.

Sheldon Richardson

The Jets finally traded Sheldon to Seattle in 2017 in exchange for Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 2nd round pick. Unless Seattle signs him to a long-term deal, he might be a free agent this year. Richardson is only 27 years old and when focused is a beast on the inside.  The veteran defensive end has career numbers of 19 sacks, 5 FF’s and an INT. Richardson would look real nice in Silver and Black lined up next to #52 in 2018.

Final Thoughts…

Obviously these are just a few names I put out there. I didn’t do any Dumpster Diving as I will leave that to Big Reg!

It will definitely be an interesting off-season as our Head Chef will be looking for some new ingredients as he prepares his menu for the fall of 2018!

Written by: 303Raider