The Oakland Raiders just had their most successful season since 2002 ... ruined by Derek Carr’s broken leg. If not for that, the Raiders could have been the team that would have prevented the New England Patriots from even having the opportunity to make a 25-point comeback in the Super Bowl, but hopes were dashed in the form of Connor Cook starting a playoff game.
Can Oakland return to the playoffs in 2017 or was this their best hope for awhile? Some of that will depend on the players they lose in free agency or potential cap casualties. Let’s take a look at what they’ve got going on right now:
Cap Space: $43 million
Impending Free Agents:
Latavius Murray, RB (not expected to re-sign)
Murray is a huge 6’3, 225 lb running back who went in the sixth round in 2013 out of Central Florida, and he ran a 4.38 forty at his Pro Day. In the last two seasons, he’s averaged four yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns on 461 attempts with 74 receptions. He’s also fumbled it six times. The Raiders could move on and focus on DeAndre Washington next season.
The Seattle Seahawks could be interested in a player like Murray, but not Murray himself. He’s likely going to get a decent sized contract (for a running back) and they are content with the cheap running backs on the roster and adding rookies or low-key free agents.
Malcolm Smith, LB
Smith signed a two-year, $7 million contract in Oakland when he left Seattle in 2015, and that means he needs a new deal. He’s been the Raiders leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, but he could also be expendable. Is a reunion with the Seahawks possible? I mean, if the market isn’t that interested him, sure, it makes some sense. Players return to their home bases all the time in free agency. I’d just imagine that maybe a team with a lot of cap space will give him more money than Seattle would, or maybe he goes back to Oakland where the defense is really growing.
Perry Riley, LB
After six seasons in Washington, Riley played one year with the Raiders. He’s fine, but probably a team’s veteran camp option with a chance to win a job more than anything else.
D.J. Hayden, CB
Consider this: Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie comes from the Ted Thompson tree in Green Bay just like John Schneider does. McKenzie drafted Hayden 12th overall in 2013, so would he and Schneider be on the same wavelength about him in some regard? Probably not. Hayden has played terribly and his arms are barely over 31”.
Menelik Watson, OT
McKenzie traded down from three to 12 when he drafted Hayden and the prize was a second round pick that turned out to be Watson. For as good of a job as McKenzie has done, it’s surprising how little he got from his first draft. Watson has 34” arms and is a former basketball player. He seems like the type that the Seahawks could toy with, it’s just a matter of health; Watson is stuck with the “injury prone” label and it fits. Maybe that’s why Seattle would be able to afford him. I’d love to see the Seahawks tap him for a one-year contract.
Others: LS Jon Condo, CB Nate Allen, WR Andre Holmes, S Brynden Trawick, LB Daren Bates, TE Mychal Rivera, QB Matt McGloin, DT Stacy McGee
Potential Cap Casualties:
David Amerson, CB
I asked Silver and Black Pride editor Levi Damien about Amerson and he says that he doesn’t think he will be cut. The Raiders would save $7 million by releasing him and they might actually need a little cap room, depending. He has the coveted 32 5/8” arms as well, but may be a little too costly.
Aldon Smith, LB
Smith will have another meeting with Roger Goodell in March to determine if he’s fit to be reinstated from a year-long suspension. Oakland would save his entire $5.75m salary if released, but they’re probably either gonna keep him if the suspension is lifted and only move on if it isn’t.
Dan Williams, DT
Damien says Williams is “as good as gone,” so would that interest Seattle? I don’t think a 30-year-old vet is the way they’re gonna go at defense tackle.
Taiwan Jones, CB/RB
Jones has that versatility that Carroll likes (he’s played running back, cornerback, and returned kicks in the NFL) but his time for experimentation is probably over; Jones hasn’t done much at any of those positions.
Austin Howard, OT
It looks as though Howard could get released as well. The Seahawks will obviously be looking at tackle, but the 6’7, 330lb undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa in 2010 hasn’t gotten great reviews since signing a nice deal with the Raiders three seasons ago. If they go the free agent route, Seattle probably wants to avoid this tier of free agents since that was a problem with J’Marcus Webb obviously.
More 2017 NFL Free Agent News: