Welcome to the Jared Gaither edition of the Oakland Raiders 2011 NFL free agent targets. If you missed it, and you're interested, check out the Jammal Brown, Tyson Clabo, Willie Colon, Marshal Yanda and Sean Locklear editions by clicking on the links. I started with right tackle because I feel it is the biggest need, and judging by a recent poll Raider Nation feels it is the biggest need as well.
In fact, the only position that gave right tackle a run in the poll was offensive guard. And that would be another benefit of signing an offensive tackle—it would allow the Raiders to potentially filling the guard vacancy with Bruce Campbell, Joe Barksdale or even re-signing Langston Walker and sticking him at guard. Jump over for info on and the chances of the Raiders signing Gaither....
For all of the day's Raider and NFL news be sure to check out Pirate Booty.
Jared Gaither's days as a Baltimore Raven are likely over—unless 2011 free agency finds the four-year veteran Gaither as a restricted free agent. This quote comes via the Ravens Insider:
"If we operate under the 2010 rules," [GM Ozzie] Newsome told some 6,500 season ticket-holders, "we would still have Jared Gaither. ... He'd get a chance to come back and start.
However, I do not expect the NFL playing under the 2010 rules, and any new CBA is likely to have players with four or more years of service being unrestricted. At that point, Gaither is as good as gone. Among other things, the Ravens traded up to draft right tackle Jah Reid. I also doubt Gaither's willingness to return to Baltimore.
The Baltimoresun.com quotes Scouts Inc. Matt Williamson, and tells us everything pertinent about Gaither possibly being a Raider without ever mentioning the Raiders:
He thinks Flacco will have a great offensive line to play behind if the Ravens retain potential free agents Jared Gaither and Marshal Yanda -- a player whom Williamson "loves" -- and move Michael Oher back to right tackle. But Gaither’s return seems unlikely after last season.
There you have it. Gaither is unlikely to return to Baltimore, and he is also a beast as a left tackle. He is going to be expected to be paid like one and he will likely want to be one. Before suffering from the back issues, that cost him his entire 2010 season, Gaither held out for part of the Ravens training camp because he was unhappy switching from the left to right side.
His injury did little to lessen his desire to play on the left side. Gaither in the Carroll County Times on rather or not it matters if he lines up on the left or right side:
Yeah, it does. I've been playing left tackle my whole career. It wouldn't make much sense to change now and get a whole new position underway at this point in time.
I could post stats, as we did with the other tackles, but it is not really relevant with Gaither. Going off of his play in the past, he is bar none the best tackle we have talked about. He is one of the best tackles, left or right, in the league. He excels in the run and pass game.
The only question, and it is a legitimate one, is Gaither's health. Gaither's agent Drew Rosenhaus let the world know on May 28th via Twitter (Drew Rosenhaus) that Gaither is ready to go:
Jared Gaither's back is totally healed. He's had a great offseason and will have a bounce back yr. He's back to full strength & ready to go.
While it is obviously in an agent's best interest to hype up their clients I wouldn't expect Drew Rosenhaus to manufacture a quote on his players health. Teams will be able to find this out on their own when free agency resumes, and Rosenhaus has to keep a certain level of credibility with these teams. Still the question remains: Will Gaither regain his form, and what are the odds he can stay healthy long-term?
This is the gamble any team will take when negotiating with Gaither. When he decides which team he wants to sign with he is going to consider two things: The money and the chance to play left tackle.
I do not expect the Raiders to take Gaither under serious consideration. With a number of teams searching for left tackle answers I expect Gaither will find a team willing to take a financial gamble on his health. The Raiders have enough youth, and promise at left tackle with Veldheer, that they do not need to take that kind of gamble.