The Big Picture!

I made a point in a post yesterday that I would like to explore as a topic to be discussed in it's entirety.

Many Raider fans, including myself, were desperately disappointed at the beginning of free-agency, when our 'top 3 targets' (fans opinion) immediately left the team for pastures new. It left most of us scratching our heads as to how we would let two homegrown quality players leave, together with an extremely effective running back, who for a period of six weeks led the league in yards from scrimmage. What exactly was Reggie thinking about, allowing something like this to happen, particularly when his team had a record amount of cap space.

In fact this very thought was revisited on this site only last week in a post on the main board by Levi, when assessing a grade to give our free-agency period. I think it's fair to say Levi was damning in his assessment of how those first couple of days of free-agency panned out.

Since then a steady stream of players have arrived through the front door, a lot of them with common ground. Namely, players who have possibly signed their last contract, players who have either a Superbowl winners ring, or have played in the Superbowl, players who have many Pro-Bowl appearances between them. In short a lot of experience, experience that will give that valuable commodity to an otherwise young, and learning roster. Another thing in common amongst these players is how Reggie has structured their contracts, very little guaranteed money beyond this upcoming season. Not in all cases, but very much the norm.

This leaves the Raiders with approximately $11.3m, actually a little more because this doesn't include the release of Breisel. I felt, and said repeatedly, that Reggie would have difficulty spending this cap money, at the beginning of free-agency. I felt he would struggle to find the right talent to come to us to match the spend of in excess of $60m. When, at the beginning of free-agency, Veldheer, Houston and Jennings walked, I further voiced my opinion that we were really staring down the barrel of a cap space void.

Since those first few days Reggie has done a fantastic job of adding winners, experience, and most importantly filling gaping holes in our roster.

I as a fan, I have learnt stuff during this whole process, mainly that it is impossible to analyse a single decision and sum it up as a complete entity. But, rather look at all the decisions of free-agency as a whole and decide overall has this team improved, not from where we were at the beginning, but where we are now, as opposed to this time last year.

We still have further monies to spend, and it appears that Reggie is waiting till the beginning of June to snap up a cap casualty or two, together with monies allocated to our draft picks.

My question to fellow posters is this. At the beginning of the pre-season when you look at the make-up of this newly formed team, with all it's new free-agents, and draft picks, if you would still prefer Veldheer, Houston, and Jennings in the team, (estimate to have got them to sign for us, $20-22m) then, which free-agents worth a combined $20-22m would you be prepared to lose to accommodate them? With the way Reggie has dealt with these new contracts, almost any combination would surely amount to five, maybe more.

We talk about trading down in the draft, to garner more picks, to fill more roster holes, well clearly Reggie has done this in free-agency, seemingly his strategy from the outset.

Surely doing this excercise of taking an equivalent value of players away from the roster to those who left, enables us to see the big picture, or of course, you may completely disagree.

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