The Oakland Raiders will be one of the busiest teams in the NFL this off-season, adding coaches and most likely a good number of players. In my first Raiders Off-season Requisites article, I discussed the number one priority this off-season, hiring the right offensive coordinator. This week, we will take a look at the current roster and discuss what general manager Reggie McKenzie should do with it.
Before the Raiders can even start considering who they would like to pursue on the free agent market, they must first decide how to handle the players currently on the roster. While the cap situation for the Raiders is better than last year, there is not a lot of money available, meaning the Raiders will likely be saying good bye to some of their higher paid players.
The list of Raiders with high price tags and who are susceptible to being cut or traded is not a short one and includes lots of big names. Darren McFadden, Tommy Kelly, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rolando McClain and Mike Brisiel are all players who should have their status with the Raiders evaluated this off-season.
First, there is one name on that list which stands out, Rolando McClain, because his status is clear. His days with the Raiders are numbered. The only question that remains is when and how do the Raiders get rid of the former first round pick.
Meanwhile, Tommy Kelly and Darrius Heyward-Bey are solid players who contribute at their position, but whose salaries are not in line with those contributions. Kelly and DHB are two of the highest paid players on the team but are clearly not the two best players on the team. Whether it be through restructuring salaries, trades or being cut, these two are not likely to remain on the team under their current contracts.
DHB is a strong candidate for restructuring rather than being cut or traded. While he may never be a number one receiver, he is still young and has the ability to be a good player for the Raiders. Plus, he is the kind of hard working player who loves the game that coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are looking for.
Tommy Kelly, on the other hand, may have seen his last game wearing the Silver and Black. He has played well for the Raiders in recent seasons, but he is getting older and has never lived up to his contract. Fellow defensive tackle Desmond Bryant is a free agent and the Raiders must do their best to bring him back since he is the future of the Raiders defensive line and not Kelly. Of the players McKenzie may cut, Kelly is the most likely.
Mike Brisiel, on the other hand, is a very interesting test case for the new regime in Oakland. One of the things that marked the Al Davis years was a resistance by Mr. Davis to admit he had made the wrong decision, often giving a player more than his fair share of opportunities to improve before being cut loose.
Brisiel was supposed to be the crowned jewel of last year's free agent class, but instead, he was a huge bust. Signed because he was known to be a zone blocking specialist during his time with the Houston Texans, Brisiel never showed up in Oakland. Aside from the right tackle position, Brisiel was clearly the biggest weakness on the offensive line. Scheduled to make $4.35 million in 2013, it will be very interesting to see how quickly McKenzie pulls the trigger on what looks like a big time free agent fail.
And then there is Darren McFadden. I am sure many are wondering why he is on this list. After all, he may very well be the best player on the entire Oakland Raiders roster. But with that being said, he is scheduled to be paid $5.85 million in 2013 and is really the only trade chip the Raiders have that is worth anything.
McFadden has been a great player for the Raiders but he is injury prone and had a very bad 2012 campaign. If the Raiders can get a second round pick for McFadden, they must at least consider trading the star of the team.
Carson Palmer would likely be on the list for the same reasoning if not for the fact that his $13 million cap number for 2013 is so prohibitive that no one would take it on.
There is a lot of change coming the Raiders way and there may be a number of familiar faces who will not be back with the Silver and Black next season.