The Raiders have a very deep receiving corps to be certain-but it isn't complete. With Chaz Schilens likely leaving in free agency, the team is left with the small speedy deep threat Denarius Moore and three possession receivers in Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Louis Murphy. Sure, DHB and Ford have the speed to take a intermediate pass the distance. But what they don't have is the ability to be a deep threat mismatch.
DHB is big enough and fast enough but he doesn't possess the ability to high-point a pass in coverage and pull a ball down like a number one receiver. Ford is an ideal slot receiver and that is where he will be lining up. What this team needs is a big, sure handed receiver who can be the complement to Denarius Moore on the other side of the field. The Raiders thought they had found a gem in Schilens but after four injury plagued seasons, they have given up on that project.
There aren't a lot of even slightly affordable receivers on the market that fit this criteria. Here are the Raiders' best options:
Marques Colston (NO) - At first glance it would appear Colston would be far too expensive for the Raiders. But the perception across the league is that he may not work as well outside of the system in place in New Orleans and Drew Brees throwing him the ball. He also has injury concerns. But when healthy, Colston is a match-up nightmare for any corner. He's an incredibly physical, sure-handed receiver and a polished route runner. He would be ideal lined up on the opposite side of the field from Denarius Moore.
Robert Meachem (NO) - Colston's receiver teammate has shown some flashes of great abilities with the Saints. But he disappears from time to time. This is partially a product of having to pick up the scraps from Colston when he is out injured. He is two years younger than Colston and has been a reliable downfield threat. He could be a great under-the-radar signing.
Laurent Robinson (DAL) - After jumping between five different teams in his first five seasons in the NFL, he had a breakout season last year for the Cowboys with 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. He said he would like to stay in Dallas but he would be a third receiver there while he would have a chance to be a starter with the Raiders.
Jerome Simpson (CIN)- One of Palmer's biggest fans in Cincinnati, there is no doubt he would flip for the opportunity to catch passes from him once again. After finishing the 2010 season with 247 yards and 3 touchdowns in the last two games of the season, he was lobbying for Palmer to return to the Bengals. He continued his newfound success last season when he caught 50 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns so we know those final games of 2010 were no fluke.