There was a lot of uncertainty coming into the offseason for the Raiders. With Al Davis no longer around, Hue Jackson fired, and Reggie McKenzie now calling the shots, there were going to be wholesale changes. First and foremost, it meant a new coaching staff. This meant new schemes. Also coming in with the new regime, was a cap situation that required a few high-priced cuts.
All of these changes meant the Raiders had a roster that was in flux. But as of last Friday, the Raiders finally have a complete starting lineup. Not every unit is deep, but being able to at least field a good first team heading into the offseason program and mini-camps is important.
Here is what the Raiders starting unit looks like as of today:
QB Carson Palmer- He restructured his contract to lower the cap number and remain a Raider through at least 2016
RB Darren McFadden- He is coming off a Liz Franc injury which had him out most of last season. He has never played with Carson Palmer.
FB Marcel Reece- The X factor was named a Pro Bowl alternate last season. He was a restricted free agent this offseason and the Raiders put a RFA tender on him to keep him around.
WR Denarius Moore- The second year phenom is Palmer's favorite target and the team's best receiver.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey- Had nearly 1000 yards last season. He is a starter but he must continue to progress this season to keep it.
TE Brandon Myers- The default starter for the departed Kevin Boss. He will be in a dogfight with David Ausberry, about whom Palmer speaks glowingly. This position could use an upgrade.
LT Jared Veldheer- One of the only set starters from last season.
LG Cooper Carlisle- Was cut and re-signed. He switches from right guard to left guard.
C Stefen Wisniewski- Moves from left guard to center taking over for the departed Samson Satele.
RG Mike Brisiel- The biggest free agent signing by the team this off season. He comes over from Houston on a 3-year deal to start at right guard.
RT Khalif Barnes- Re-signed by the Raiders. He will have Joseph Barksdale breathing down his neck.
MLB/ILB Rolando McClain- The staff loves his talent. If he can put it all together, his production will match it.
*ILB Travis Goethel- In 3-4 sets, Goethel is the other starting inside linebacker. He has been injured a lot so we haven't seen much of him in games but he has shown in practice that he is smart and instinctive.
OLB Aaron Curry- Restructured/extended his contract this offseason and will remain a starter.
OLB Philip Wheeler- The last piece of the starter puzzle, he was signed last Friday to take over for the departed Kamerion Wimbley.
CB Ron Bartell- Signed as a free agent. Was out of football last season with a neck injury. He is cleared medically and has starter talent.
SS Tyvon Branch- Had the franchise tag placed on him. The team is working on a long term deal.
FS Michael Huff- Restructured his deal to stay with the team.
DE Matt Shaughnessy- Was the Raiders best defensive lineman last season until he was lost for the season with an injury.
DT Richard Seymour- The Raiders' only non-special teams Pro Bowler last season. Restructured/extended his deal with the team. *Could shift to DE in 3-4.
DT Tommy Kelly- Remains the starter alongside Seymour. *Could also shift to DE in 3-4.
*NT Travis Ivey- He is the only true nose tackle on the roster. The team will look to add another but for now, he is it.
DE Lamarr Houston- He is the starting defensive end on the other side. *In 3-4 sets, he would be the odd man out.
K Sebastian Janikowski- First time Pro Bowler. Longtime starter.
P Shane Lechler- Long time Pro Bowler. Future Hall of Fame candidate.
KR Jacoby Ford- One of the best in the business will be back healthy and looking to repeat his 3 TD 2010 season.
PR Bryan McCann- Raiders placed a tender on him as an RFA to keep him on board.
The Raiders will be adding more competition at many of these positions either in free agency or the draft. There will be several changes prior to the start of the season but having a good first team is very important at this juncture.