As Raiders brass has said all off-season, this is when the bulk of the rebuild of this team happens. They were handcuffed by dead money and an overall lack of draft picks the past two seasons and now the new regime is finally in position to think long term.
Reports came out this morning of the league salary cap being higher than originally anticipated and the Raiders already had the most cap space available to them for signing free agents.
One of the reasons they have such a clean slate now is they had signed so many players to one-year contracts last season. It isn't the ideal situation but when you have a lot of players looking to prove themselves, and not a lot of money to work with, long term deals are hard to come by.
Dennis Allen spoke at the scouting combine Thursday and he spoke of the Raider newfound abilities to think long term.
"I think when you look at our situation, it's a little bit of a unique situation where we've got 18 unrestricted free agents on our football team," said Allen. "We had signed a lot of guys to one-year deals so there's still going to be some turnover on this football team.
"The thing that we have to do a great job of, although we have a lot of cap room, we have to make sure we make good, sound decisions because we're trying to build this thing not just for the one-year fix, but we're really trying to build this thing for the long term. I think that's the way you're able to sustain success that you're able to keep people that are on your football team, quality players, you're able to keep them on your football team. I think you supplement your roster by going out in free agency and acquiring some talent outside of your building. But I think you really build this thing through the draft. We're going to look at all avenues that we have open to us to try to improve the football team."
The Raiders could very much use another full stable of draft picks. The first draft they had didn't start until the compensatory portion of the third round and last season, they saw very little contributions from the rookies due mostly to injuries.
Those rookies are all still under contract and will have another chance to prove they can contribute. Bringing back key free agents and signing outside free agents to long term deals along with a new crop of rookies will go a long way to stocking up this team so they aren't in this situation again next year.
- Dennis Allen: Raiders looking "very closely" at quarterbacks in draft
- Newly reported NFL salary cap has Raiders available cap money at estimated $64.4 million
- Daily Win: What to expect from the NFL combine
- Raiders Sleeper Cell: WR Andre Holmes
- Raiders potential draft targets have something to prove at Scouting combine