The Oakland Raiders set out to dispel any thoughts that would not be players in the 2011 NFL free agency market. Numerous reports, including Jason LaCanfora on NFL.com, told us the the Raiders were in negotiations with Jared Gaither. I am overjoyed with this news. My main hope entering this free agency season was that the Raiders would upgrade at tackle, and Jared Gaither most definitely is an upgrade...when he is healthy. And that can be a big if with Gaither.
Gaither's agent Drew Rosenhaus let the world know on May 28th via Twitter (Drew Rosenhaus) that Gaither is ready to go:
Jared Gaither's back is totally healed. He's had a great offseason and will have a bounce back yr. He's back to full strength & ready to go.
While Gaither is likely fully healthy now, the possibility of a recurrence of this injury remains. We are talking about back problems on a 6'9" mountain of a man that rams into things for a living. Jump over for more....
An interesting question here is: Would Gaither play left or right tackle? My guess is the Raiders would put him at left. If Gaither is 100 percent, he is one of the best left tackles in the game. And they would probably have to tell Gaither he was going to play left to get him to sign here. Gaither in the Carroll County Times on rather or not it matters if he lines up on the left or right side:
Yeah, it does. I've been playing left tackle my whole career. It wouldn't make much sense to change now and get a whole new position underway at this point in time.
This would work just fine. The Raiders could move Jared Veldheer to right tackle. Veldheer was better in run blocking than pass blocking as a rookie, and he struggled with speed rushers on the edge. These weaknesses would not be as amplified on the right side.
Along with the injuries the other red flag on Gaither is that he has been dogged by questions of character. Hue Jackson and Al Saunders have both worked with him before. If they aren't worried about it, I am not worried about it.
Gaither will likely cost a pretty penny. That coupled with his Pro Bowl level talent make this a high risk/reward signing. And one that I will being doing backflips over.