It was only 9 seasons ago that the Oakland Raiders were on top of the AFC. They were an offensive juggernaut that was heavy with veteran players, as we know now, in fact they were too heavy with veteran players to have continued success, but that is the way things are played out in the NFL nowadays. You take three or four years to build your contender and then you ride that wave for as long as health, good drafting and sound free-agent signings carry you.
Unfortunately, the Oakland Raiders were riddled with terrible drafts and a complete lack of a baseline upon which to rebuild their franchise after the veterans, Rice, Brown, Romo, Gannon, R. Woodson , Kennedy and Parella were reduced to retiring.
Now, in 2011, it looks like the fortunes have turned for our Raiders who wrapped up the season at 8-8. 8-8 is significant because those of you who have been around for a while remember that before becoming a powerhouse in the AFC, the Oakland Raiders finished 8-8 for two straight seasons. Two straight 8-8's showed stability for the franchise and allowed a few missing veteran pieces (Rice, Woodson, Parella, Romo) to be brought aboard through free agency that proved to be keys to their success from 2000-2002.
So, I guess the first question to answer would be: "Is Oakland now a desirable place to play for proven veterans who are looking to win a Championship?"
My first guess would be no, but, let's take a look at what pros exists for players who may be looking to play for a winner, but, more importantly, win a Championship.
1) Richard Seymour - Seymour is the unquestioned leader of this team. From his demeanor in the locker room and on the field he is a player that will attract free agents. If Seymour is happy in Oakland, they can also be happy in Oakland.
I think that Seymour's headslap of "Gentle Ben" put him on the map as a leader in Oakland. Some will say that it was the act of a ruffian, but, there is no doubt that players around the NFL and even on Ben's own team applauded the act and Seymour earned even more NFL respect. This showed by the fact that he was named to the Pro Bowl although his "Numbers" weren't as great as some players that were left off.
If Oakland franchises Seymour it won't have much of an effect on Free-Agents wanting to come to Oakland because they would want to join him on a 3-4 year run and that would only be possible, if he were signed to a 3-4 year deal.
So, step #1 would be to sign Richard Seymour to a 3-4 year deal.
2) Nnamdi Asomugha - Nnamdi is without a doubt one of the finest shutdown corners in the NFL. He has the ability to take his man completely out of the play and IF he were to stay in Oakland, he may be able to convince Champ Bailey or another vet to come over and help him win a Championship.
With that being said, the question really is, does Nnamdi believe that he can win here? If he signs with Oakland, at a discounted salary, he would be sending a message to other free agents that he believes he can win here and that would let them know that they could as well.
So, step #2, try and sign Nnamdi to a reasonable contract. If Oakland can keep Nnamdi and Seymour for the next few years, we will be building a winner.
3) Hue Jackson - Any candidate for an executive or officer role with a company or franchise is asked, "Who will you bring with you?" To this point we really haven't seen anybody that Hue has brought with him and we have to believe that there are some players in the wings that would love to play for Hue. Who are they? Will they give us another leg to stand on?
4) Jason Campbell - Campbell is very well liked and respected around the League, at least through the press. I have never heard a player say anything bad about Jason, in fact, they have all called him a leader and praised his work ethic and ability. So, can Jason bring more than "Rock" Cartwright to Oakland?
Free agents all want to play for teams with top tiered QB's or whoever shows them the most money. Is Jason Campbell, at this point, a good enough QB to save Al some money on free agents and entice some fence sitters to join our offense?
Well, there are four names that can help us win sooner rather than later, because, as everyone except for Tom Cable knows, Not "LOSING" is not good enough. We want Super Bowls!!!