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Grading Raiders 2015 free agent class

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For the second year in a row, the Raiders had a massive amount of cash to spend to try and upgrade their team via free agency. The 2014 offseason didn't yield much in the way of help via free agency and the 3-win season was the result. A year later, they set out to try and make a bigger splash.

This was their crop in order of their signing and how they panned out over the course of the season:

Rodney Hudson

The prize free agent signing by the Raiders. They had Stephen Wisniewski set to become a free agent and the two sides disagreed on value. The entire time the Raiders had their sights set on the top free agent center on the market. It was a bit of a risk, but in the end, they made Hudson the highest paid center in the league (for about a month) and lured him away from Kansas City. The Raiders had plenty of money to spend to make it happen so in this case it was all about getting who they wanted. They also front loaded the deal, offering him $13 million of his $20 million guaranteed in the first season.

Grade: A

DT Dan Williams

After making a run at Ndamukong Suh and losing out to the Dolphins who gave him a silly contract the likes of which McKenzie may have called "out of whack" had he inherited it, they moved on to other potential free agent targets. Jack Del Rio is known for liking his defensive tackles on the large side and Williams fits that mold. Williams was signed to a 4-year, $25 million deal with $15.2 million guaranteed. He isn't an every down player at the nose and isn't the impact player of Suh, but he was very solid this season against the run.

Grade: B

LB Curtis Lofton

Lofton was cut by the Saints as he led the league among linebackers with 22 missed tackles last season for the Saints' league worst defense. The Raiders were in much need of a veteran middle linebacker and Lofton was that, so they signed him to a 3-year, $18 million deal with $6.5 million guaranteed, all in the first year. He immediately showed why the Saints parted ways with him after last season. He was a complete liability in coverage and had his issues against the run as well. The team got instantly better when they went with rookie linebackers Neiron Ball and later Ben Heeney.

Grade: D

TE Lee Smith

Known for his blocking, the Raiders added him for his mean streak. He had his moments as a blocker, though rarely did he seem like a difference maker. His contract figures were high by most measures for a blocking tight end who doesn't offer much as a receiver (12 catches for 70 yards). That being said, every team needs a grinder like him.

Grade: C+

LB Malcolm Smith

After toiling away in a backup role most of his career in Seattle, Ken Norton Jr brought him to Oakland to give him his shot at being a starter. Smith had proven he was capable during the 2013 season when he stepped in as an injury replacement and helped the Seahawks to a Super Bowl, winning MVP of the game as well. But the Seahawks are deep on talent, making Oakland a far better option. They signed him to a 2-year, $7 million deal. Quite affordable especially when you consider he was the team's leading tackler this season and the only linebacker who never left the field.

Grade: A+

RB Roy Helu Jr

A first day signing, this Bay Area native was returning home to continue his career. His talent was as a receiver out of the backfield, offering a nice wrinkle to the offense. A wrinkle that the team apparently thought they didn't need as they had Helu inactive half the season. After the 26-year-old signed a 2-year, $4.1 million deal, he touched the ball just 26 times all season as a runner and receiver, putting up a total of 114 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

Grade: C-

FS Nate Allen

After having his best season as a pro, the Raiders came calling, offering the long term deal he had been waiting for. He signed with the Raiders on a 4-year $23 million deal with $11.8 million guaranteed. Allen was hurt in the season opener and placed on Injured Reserve with Designation to return. He returned and started three games before being injured again and shut down for the remainder of the season. His best contribution as a safety was in the fact that TJ Carrie could move back to corner. Otherwise, Allen wasn't a clear upgrade over Carrie at safety. The Raiders still don't really know what they have in him for sure.

Grade: D+

OG J'Marcus Webb

This signing went almost completely unnoticed in the offseason. He was a former offensive tackle who no one took an interest in over the first few weeks of free agency and the Raiders signed to a 1-year veteran minimum deal. Then sometime in OTA's they began putting him in at first team right guard and he never left. He started along the Raiders offensive line all season, moving to right tackle for the final three games. He was never great in the spot, though if you go by when he was signed, his best hope was to make the team. But with the void at right guard, he got the job and was serviceable a good portion of the time.

Grade: B-

WR Michael Crabtree

After the Raiders had made a serious run at Randall Cobb, only to watch him re-sign with the Packers, they had to look elsewhere to find a starting wide receiver. Jeremy Maclin was the next best option, but he followed his former head coach and headed to Kansas City on a rich contract.

Crabtree wasn't seeing the interest in the free agent market he had hoped and became a late signing by the Raiders on a one-year, $3.2 million deal. Right away, he showed chemistry with Derek Carr and early in the season was the team's most reliable receiver. His play early on earned him a long term deal before the season was over. While the jury is still out on whether he is worth his extension, adding him on a one year deal proved to be a great move by the Raiders as he would put up comparable numbers to both Cobb and Maclin.

Grade: A

OLB Aldon Smith

A month after he had been cut by the 49ers, and days before the start of the regular season, Smith had yet to receive a suspension handed down from the NFL. At that point, several teams were interested in adding him, and the Raiders had what he was looking for so he signed with them on a one-year $8 million deal. There was no money guaranteed and the contract was dependent on his playing the entire season, making his final cap hit $3 million after he was eventually suspended at midseason. He will serve a one-year suspension, after which he could return to the Raiders or sign elsewhere. He had found a great support system in Oakland which will give the Raiders the advantage in signing the 26-year-old former All Pro pass rusher.

Grade: B+

CB David Amerson

Two games into the season, this former second round pick was waived by Washington. He had given up the second most catches of any cornerback last season and had fallen out of favor early in the season, causing the team to cut ties. The Raiders claimed him off waivers and made him a starter on their weak secondary. Amerson was a revelation for the Raiders. He would finish second in the NFL in passes defended (25) and was named Pro Football Focus's Most Improved Player. It's unpleasant to imagine just how bad this secondary would have been last season without him.

Grade: A+

Nothing lost, little gained:

Taylor Mays S
Lorenzo Alexander LB
Keenan Lambert S
Korey Toomer LB
Marcus Thigpen KR
Jeremy Ross KR

Camp cuts:

James Dockery CB
Christian Ponder QB
Trent Richardson RB
Trindon Holliday WR/KR
Kris Durham WR

Overall class

Among these additions, the Raiders got six regular starters who played major roles in the team's success over the course of the season. Of those, four were signed to multi-year deals, and another (Crabtree) was extended. On the other side of that, they had three big contracts handed out to players who didn't live up to the hopes placed on them.

Overall grade: B