Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The Raiders will have a lot to think about with regard to what to do with some of their free agents this offseason. Here are those who are must signs, could go either way, and let ‘em walk.
A 4-12 rebuilding team like the Raiders is expected to have a great deal of turnover from season to season. There are also those players who are absolutely necessary to hold onto to aid in the building process. And then there are those who you may want to keep for lack of better options. Here are all those free agent players, in order of necessity.
LB Philip Wheeler UFA
A star for the Raiders last season, he will be the most important target in a very thin linebacking corps. He led the team in tackling from the strong side linebacker spot and is versatile enough to play inside or outside. He is also intelligent enough to call the plays for the defense which he did for much of last season after Rolando McClain was stripped of those duties.
DT Desmond Bryant UFA
He stepped up last season with Richard Seymour out with injury the latter half of the season and had a sack in each of the last four games to finish tied for the team lead (4.0). The defense also improved greatly with him as the starter in the final month. He is set to be the starter again next season and the Raiders very much need to bring him back into the fold.
CB Joselio Hanson UFA
His numbers were not great last season but he is a proven slot corner on a team which doesn't have a lot of options at cornerback. If they manage to find someone to replace him in the draft, so be it. But they can ill afford to let him walk as a free agent. His price tag will be cheap so there is really no reason not to bring him back.
DB Brandian Ross ERFA
As an exclusive rights restricted free agent, there is little doubt he will be a Raider next season. The Raiders found a real gem in this Packers castoff. He can play both safety and corner and is very disciplined at either position.
T Khalif Barnes UFA
Sure, the Raiders would like to upgrade the right tackle position. But they have been saying that for a while and yet each season, Barnes is back for lack of better options. Right now he is the best they have. If they manage to find someone to beat him out, so bet it. But until that happens, he is a valuable consolation.
G Cooper Carlisle UFA
The most dependable offensive lineman on this team last season. He has played well in both zone and power blocking schemes. The team would like Tony Bergstrom to take the reins at left guard but if they can get Carlisle back, he is a great insurance plan.
DE Andre Carter UFA
He showed late last season that he can still be effective at this point of his career. He is a Bay Area native and wants to be a Raider. No reason not to bring him back on another one year deal.
DE Matt Shaughnessy UFA
He has caught a lot of flak for being ineffective at times but he has proven he can be a very good pass rusher when he has help from the defensive tackle to take pressure off of him. He is a solid starter and if the Raiders don't re-sign him, someone else will take him and the Raiders would regret it.
S Mike Mitchell UFA
He has only started two games in his career with the Raiders as a second round pick but last season he showed when he was finally asked to step up for Tyvon Branch, he can be a solid contributor. The Raiders should try to bring him back in the same role. He is also a firey, exuberant presence in the locker room.
TE Brandon Myers UFA
He is coming off a great season. A surprising season. But he still struggles in blocking and should not be relied upon as the number one option. The Raiders need to bring in another tight end and/or figure out what they have in David Ausberry.
RB Mike Goodson UFA
He was a great option last season at running back. He would be a high priority except he is a zone back and the Raiders are switching back to power blocking. He can still contribute both out of the backfield and on special teams and is worth bringing back.
C/G Alex Parsons ERFA
Always a good thing to have a serviceable guy like Parsons who can play both guard and center. He is an exclusive rights free agent so he will be back if the Raiders want him back.
LB Omar Gaither UFA
He was signed midseason as an emergency replacement for Rolando McClain. Now the team will have an entire offseason to find a better option. Gaither could still be valuable as a backup.
WR Derek Hagan UFA
The steady veteran who teams always seem to find expendable and yet always finds another home. The Raiders can use a steady veteran presence but his roster spot is as shaky as it always is.
P Shane Lechler UFA
The greatest punter in NFL history but not worth $4 million per season. If some team will give him that kind of money, he would probably take it. The team should absolutely try to bring him back but he won't return without a much cheaper contract.
CB Phillip Adams RFA
He played quite well...when he played. He got hurt in nearly every game he played. The Raiders like him but if they don't think they can rely upon him, they would let him test the market.
LB Kaelin Burnett ERFA
He should be back as an exclusive rights free agent. He signed as an undrafted free agent and the team like him as a special teams contributor.
QB Matt Leinart UFA
The journeyman quarterback is a good backup. His former QB coach, Greg Knapp, is gone but if he will come back at veteran minimum again, the Raiders could do much worse.
Let ‘em walk
DT Richard Seymour UFA - His contract voided itself and the Raiders are very thankful it did. Outside of Carson Palmer, he had the richest contract on the team and was not producing.
CB Shawntae Spencer UFA - The Raiders found better options at corner and he can't stay healthy.
S Matt Giordano UFA - Got burnt way too often last season. An upgrade would not be too difficult.
WR Duke Calhoun ERFA - Was out all of last season injured and had he not been, he wouldn't have made the roster anyway.
CB Coye Francies ERFA - He was a disaster on special teams. That is where is value was supposed to lie.
T Zach Hurd ERFA - Has been on the practice squad or injured reserve since joining the Raiders in 2011.
RB Jeremy Stewart ERFA - Showed flashes last season at running back but he is very much a zone blocking scheme running back and the Raiders are moving away from that.
The Raiders can lock up any of these players longterm between now and March 12. After that, they would officially be free agents eligible to sign with any team.