Day one of NFL Free Agency 2015 is in the books. And what a day it was. Full of trades, signings, cuts, and even a few surprise retirements (Jake Locker? Patrick Willis? Jason Worilds?). On an overall crazy day, things didn't go so swimmingly for the Raiders either.
After the big report of coming to terms with Rodney Hudson came down yesterday, we all eagerly looked forward to what the ACTUAL first day of free agency brought.
The first report of a signing was that of former Seahawks linebacker, Malcolm Smith. And while being a recent Super Bowl MVP may sound exciting for most fans, Raiders fans don't have pleasant memories of such signings. Many of them remember the disastrous signing of Larry Brown or the underwhelming addition of Desmond Howard.
Those signings were immediately following their Super Bowl MVP moments. This one is a season removed. After becoming a fulltime starter for the first time in 2013, the former seventh round pick was back to primarily a reserve role in 2014. And he is an outside linebacker which is widely considered the ONE position on the Raiders defense that was actually in great shape with Khalil Mack and Sio Moore in place.
Basically what I am saying is it wasn't a signing that was inspiring a lot of awe.
But the Raiders weren't done. The next reported addition was another Smith -- Lee Smith. A blocking tight end.
Like the Smith before him, he is a season removed from his finest season. In 2013 he was ranked in the top five among tight ends in both pass blocking and run blocking by Pro Football Focus. Last season he had positive grades in both areas but only slightly. He comes to town on a 3-year, $9 million deal which is pretty rich for a blocking tight end.
The next signed reported was Roy Helu. Not mentioned among the top running backs on the market, but not a bad signing. Just not one that will in any way satisfy the hungry fan base who was expecting the "Brinks truck" and "going big" as had been uttered by Mark Davis and other Raiders sources respectively. Helu is a change of pace back. He signed for 2 years, $4 million. Hardly "going big."
Overall an extremely disappointing first day for those expecting the Raiders to get to spending their close to $60 million under the cap.
There are many who are having flashbacks of last year. Paying big money to an offensive lineman on day one and pretty much fizzling out from there. Last year Rodger Saffold was the Olineman the Raiders threw big money at (for some reason) on day one. And as most of you know he didn't pass his physical and his deal was voided. This year it's Rodney Hudson. A far more proven player who may actually be worth the big payday.
Last year things began to pick up on day two. Some might see things shaping up as a repeat of the disappointing free agent class that gave the Raiders the widely considered worst roster in the NFL last season. But there appear to be some differences ahead.
There is still one big fish the Raiders are reportedly working hard to reel in and that's DeMarco Murray. The opinions on that move are split because the Raiders have a Murray in place already -- Latavius -- and therefore laying down what figures to be an extremely large amount of money for a running back is not wise spending.
At this point, the Raiders already lost on all the big names except Hudson and they had to make him the highest paid center in the NFL to do it. Murray is the biggest name out there, so they are making their play. No one is the favorite at this moment. He could even opt to return to the Cowboys, once again using the threat of the Raiders' big dollars to drive up his price with his current team. Something we saw with Randall Cobb in Green Bay.
Others visiting the Raiders are Jermaine Gresham, Dan Williams, and Curtis Lofton. Here is where we see a contrast from last year's free agent haul. These guys are all still in their 20's. Signing players over 30 was a big criticism the Raiders received last year at this time.
All three come with at least some questions. With Gresham it's maturity. His attitude is supposedly one of the reasons the Bengals let him leave as a free agent. Williams was not the Raiders first choice or second choice or perhaps even their third choice. Nadamukong Suh went to Miami on a monster deal, then Jared Odrick chose to Jacksonville, and Terrance Knighton said the Raiders didn't come even close to the contract numbers he was expecting and is looking at other options. And Lofton was cut after grading out as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL last year.
On the other hand, Gresham is a former first round pick with the kind of receiving skills the Raiders have not had at tight end since the days of Zach Miller, Williams is a damn fine nose tackle from the best defense in the NFL, and Lofton collected 145 tackles on one of the worst defenses in the NFL and the Raiders are desperate for a true middle linebacker. So, some questions but some potential, Fairly typical of many free agents.
I expect some of these signings to be made official early Wednesday and perhaps some we hadn't heard about at all. And from there I would suspect the Raiders are still not done. They had a lot of money to spend and a lot of holes to fill... again.
Day 2 is shaping up to be quite a bit more exciting than day one. Though, that wouldn't take much.