As the franchise tag period came and went, the Raiders didn't make a move to ensure either left tackle Jared Veldheer or defensive end Lamarr Houston would not hit the market come March 11. This despite having plenty of cap space to use the franchise or transition tag on either of them.
As for Veldheer, the talks of a new long term deal grew stagnant this off-season. Veldheer was not happy with the lack of communication from the Raiders with regard to getting a deal done and word has it there were no increased talks leading up to the franchise tag deadline either. This suggests the Raiders never had any intention of using the tag on Veldheer.
Veldheer had stated publicly that he would not have been happy about getting the franchise tag. So, in that regard, the Raiders were granting his wishes.
As for Lamarr Houston, there was also never any intention of placing the franchise tag on him. While the transition tag would have been far more appealing, even that was not utilized.
What the transition tag would have done is allowed the Raiders to match any offer given to Houston from another team. The problem is, the Raiders may not agree with the exact contract details given to Houston from another team so it has its drawbacks.
The team had been attempting to re-sign Houston all season long but the two sides could not agree on his worth or contract details. Come season's end, Houston was not optimistic about his chances of returning to the team. He has always maintained he would like to return to the Raiders and since then the Raiders have stated several times that the feeling is mutual.
Both Veldheer and Houston have stated they would like to return and the Raiders have stated they would like both of them back. However, even in the franchise tag deadline held no meaning for the Raiders, the opening of free agency should.
The free agent tampering period is just five days away on March 8. At that time Houston and Veldheer could get a very good idea of their market value through discussions with other teams. If they truly would like to return to Oakland, they could share those contract numbers with the Raiders to allow them to make a similar offer.
If either of them are to be re-signed prior to March 8, Veldheer would seem the most likely of the two. The Raiders gave him his wish not to receive the franchise tag and that could have been communicated in a single phone call.
There is a growing sense of impatience among the fans - many of whom think the contracts should be handed out in order of importance. But it doesn't work that way. The more important the player, the more difficult the details of the contract are. It's a negotiation and sometimes the only way to resolve the actual value of a player is to test it on the open market.
The thing about the open market is competition - both from other teams as well as other free agents also on the market. The Panthers put the franchise tag on Greg Hardy and the Redskins put the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo. Their absence from the pool raises Lamarr Houston's value based solely on supply and demand. Veldheer's value will be high regardless. He is one of the top left tackles in the game and will command top dollar as such.
In the end, if Houston and Veldheer return to the Raiders, the team will end up paying something likely similar to what the players were asking. Then again, they can afford it like no other team can. Their salary cap room is currently at about $66.5 million which is more than $10 million more than the next team (Jaguars $56.1 million).