For the Oakland Raiders, their decisions about the center position this year could effect what they do at center for years to come.
There are reports now flowing from the NFL Combine that the three time Pro Bowl center for the Indianapolis Colts, Jeff Saturday, will test the free agent market. If you have watched the Colts at all, you no doubt know the difference Saturday makes to his quarterback, Peyton Manning when he is on the field. There is always a chance that the Colts will re-sign him, but according to his agent, he will be a unrestricted free agent. Saturday's availability could alter what the Raiders will do this off season for the all important center position.
For the Raiders, having been blessed with greatness at that position for most of their history, with the likes of Otto, Dalby and Mosebar, the Raiders find themselves in a state of transition for the often overlooked but hugely important position of center. All the more so when that center will be snapping the ball to your franchise QB. Presently, the Raiders have 3 centers on their roster in Jake Grove, John Wade and Chris Morris. Wade, at 34 years old and too one dimensional, would seemingly not be brought back.
The Raiders off season plans for center will likely be determined this week by what their intentions are with Jake Grove. With Grove being an UFA, the Raiders will have to decide if he still fits into their plans. They could re-sign Grove for center and look to bring in a lower level veteran free agent for depth. They could re-sign Grove to play right guard and then look to the draft and pick one of the top three centers available. Or, they could aggressively pursue Saturday and have him man the position for the next 3 years or so, bringing with him a veteran presence and All Pro skills.If the Raiders can obtain Saturday without ridiculously over paying for him, then it could be the right move. Or lastly, the Raiders should, maybe must go all out to draft either Mack, Unger or Luigs, even if it means trading up to grab the one they desire.
What is clear, is that this year there is an abundance of opportunity for Oakland to upgrade and solidify the center position that clearly needs attention.
O.K. Nation, what do you think the Raiders should do at center?