Wrapping up Raiders bizarre open to free agency

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The work day is ending as the free agent deals continue to trickle in. But what we have seen so far from the Raiders boggles the mind and has left us all wondering what in the world they are doing.

All this time leading up to free agency, the discussion was about re-signing Jared Veldheer, Lamarr Houston, and Rashad Jennings. All three of them got the brush off by the Raiders and signed elsewhere within minutes of the start of free agency.

No sooner did free agency open but Veldheer signed with the Cardinals and Lamarr Houston became a Chicago Bear. A short while later, Rashad Jennings headed for New York to join the Giants.

Those were the Raiders' top three free agents and despite having all the money in the known universe with which to keep them, they made essentially no real effort to do so.

Who did they keep? Darren McFadden. The guy who has never been healthy for more than 12 games in a season and had just one season over 1000 yards was brought back on a 1-year deal worth a maximum of $4 million.

Rashad Jennings took over for McFadden last season and proved he not only was for real, but that yet again McFadden was not.

In other injury prone players news, the Raiders signed Rodger Saffold to replace Veldheer. Not only was Saffold ready with pen in hand when free agency hit, but he signed a richer deal than the Raiders were prepared to give Veldheer and more than Veldheer got from the Cardinals.

Some have suggested Saffold may have been signed to play guard, where he spent his last few games with the Jets. But he is getting paid $8.5 million per season which is even more ridiculous for a guard than it is if you consider him a tackle. So, the weirdness continues.

As far as players the Raiders have had reported interest, they were said to be attempting to lure Darrelle Revis over from the Buccaneers in a trade. They later backed out most likely because they would have wanted Revis to restructure his contract and Revis was unwilling to do so. He is set to make $16 million this season. Even with a restructure, he would have been expensive and would have cost the Raiders a draft pick.

If you want a bright spot it's that actually making the trade for Revis would have been much more head scratching. So, there's that.

Next up is former Giants running back Andre Brown, who the Raiders are reportedly interested in signing. He too is injury prone, having broken his leg in each of the past two seasons. He no doubt jumped onto the Raiders radar when he returned in week nine to face the Raiders and ran 30 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. Prior to the past two seasons, he bounced around to five different teams in two years. During that time he had a total of four carries for -2 yards. Not quite the type of big money free agent the Raiders were expected to sign.

Then there's former Jets offensive tackle Austin Howard. He is a very interesting player who grades out well by Pro Football Focus and started every game for the Jets the past two seasons. The question now is what of Menelik Watson? The Raiders used their round two pick on Watson last season and if they have Saffold signed long term on the left and Howard on the right, Watson is basically a wasted pick after appearing in just 5 games as a rookie.

But what of those outside free agents they did not sign?

They need serious help at quarterback, defensive end, offensive guard, defensive tackle, and cornerback. You can add safety if you like considering Charles Woodson scoffed at the deal they offered him, saying he would rather retire than take table scraps to play another season. The Raiders signed no players at any of these positions and aren't even reportedly interested in anyone.

One of the most glaring needs in which there were good players to be had is at guard where the four big names out there were Zane Beadles, Jon Asomoah, Geoff Schwartz, and Davin Joseph. Key word "were" as they all signed to other teams while not receiving any serious interest from the Raiders. Good thing they re-signed Khalif Barnes, eh? And you thought they didn't have a plan.

There is of course no guarantees spending big money in free agency will make a team great. In fact, most teams who break the bank on free agents don't have success with those players. That's not really what we're talking about here.

The Raiders did shell out big money to one player already. They made Rodger Saffold the highest paid free agent tackle outside of former franchise player and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert.

It was simply a bizarre day altogether. After Raiders fans held out hope the past two seasons of purging would lead to some big off-season free agent acquisitions while retaining the team's top players as a foundation were left with their heads in their hands.

I usually at least have a theory or two to offer. Not this time. I'm at a loss. Perhaps we will have an answer sometime in the future, but I doubt it.

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