Free agency will be ramping up soon and the Raiders are expected to be players with a lot of money to spend. Over an estimated $60 million in fact, which is second most in the NFL behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last season the Raiders were also expected to make a big splash in free agency. But that splash turned out to be less of a ‘cannonball' and more of a ‘belly flop'.
With an historic $61 million to spend under the salary cap, their two big first day investments were both along the offensive line. And they were both duds - Rodger Saffold's deal was voided due to a failed physical and Austin Howard was downright terrible at the right guard spot.
From there, it got somewhat better, albeit rather unsatisfying for those Raiders fans who had waited through two years of bargain basement, dumpster diving, due to a ton of dead money on the books eating up cap space, looking forward to finally having a surplus.
The second wave brought the likes of Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Tarell Brown, Antonio Smith, James Jones, and Kevin Boothe. Of those, only Boothe was not a starter heading into the season, and only Woodley was an outright mistake.
Reggie McKenzie said his approach this year will be different than it was last offseason.
"Last year, I felt like we needed more role players," McKenzie said Wednesday. "Now we're looking for some guys who can come in and be impact (players). Be starters. More so. So in volume, that way, I'm looking for less volume that way. I don't need as many backup players. We need to get stronger. We're going to go after some real players."
Last year's free agent approach sounds like it was not unlike those of previous seasons. 'Just find some guys to fill out a roster so we can field a team'. The 3-13 record reflects that approach pretty well.
Saying the Raiders are looking for "impact" players or "real players" is rather vague along the same lines as statements like "we're going to be competitive" and "we're going to win some games" - both statements Reggie McKenzie made numerous times prior to the team's 4-win, 4-win, and 3-win seasons.
Any player can be called an "impact" player or a "real player". I mean, did not many of their additions last year make an "impact"? Were they not "real"?
That being said, I think the Raiders will look to make some big moves in free agency. The pressure is on for Reggie McKenzie to make good on his claims so there is nothing left up to interpretation. The "impact" the new free agents must make needs to be in the win column.