The major criticism of the Raiders 12 months ago was that they took an aging roster lacking talent and, well, made it older (without really fixing the "talent" part).
Of course, they redeemed themselves by crushing the draft and adding four starters (Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Justin Ellis and Gabe Jackson) plus a handful of other prospects who have the potential to join that group shortly (Keith McGill and TJ Carrie).
After another miserable season, however, the Raiders were back in a familiar position: needing to fill a lot of holes but having plenty of money to do so.
So here we are, two days into free agency and the jury is still out on Oakland. The good news? They've gotten younger! Through seven signings, the Raiders have yet to add anyone older than 28 — Rodney Hudson is 25, Dan Williams is 27, Nate Allen is 28, Malcolm Smith is 25, Roy Helu is 26, Lee Smith is 27, and Curtis Lofton is 28. Even Jermaine Gresham, who the Raiders are rumored to be close to signing, is 26.
So is all good in Raiderland? Well, not quite.
There's often a question of whether a team should address the need quantity or quality — in this case, it's clear the Raiders opted for quantity.
The problem? This roster needed both.
Yes, it needed these seven (and nearly eight) players — young guys with potentially bright futures in front of them that will quickly elevate the baseline talent of the roster. They're foundational pieces that add organizational depth that was desperately needed.
But the issue I have is that Oakland still has gobbs of money left to spend!
Reggie McKenzie could have signed all seven of these players and made a splash with an elite free agent. Did they try? Allegedly. But, let's be honest, if Oakland wanted to be serious players in the Ndamukong Suh or Demarco Murray sweepstakes, they knew they'd have to up the ante a bit and they (apparently) weren't willing to.
Oakland's roster has gotten much better, yes. But the organization's image is still in need of a facelift. Think of the statement that would be made if they brought in a guy like Suh or Murray — someone unanimously agreed upon as one of the best players in the league.
Do I think one of those guys takes Oakland to the playoffs immediately? Not necessarily. Are they worth what they got? Maybe not. But what I don't understand is what Oakland is planning on doing with the remainder of their money.
By my counts, Oakland still has something in the ballpark of $30 million left to spend — why didn't they just throw a big chunk of that at a star? Why not grab the headlines, generate some positive PR and tell the league you're done being a doormat? Or even get involved in making a trade — if you can't sign a star, trade for one!
In my mind, the offseason hasn't been a complete and total failure. The Raiders needed to fill a number of holes and they did so — they got young, talented and affordable guys that infuse some desperately needed talent into a porous roster.
As a fan of a team and organization that has been a laughingstock for over a decade, however, I just wish they had done more. I wish they had taken this opportunity — with new energy and tons of cash — to make a giant step towards changing that.
They haven't (yet), and I think that was a miss. Then again, Reggie, there's still time left.