The NFL year 'officially' began Wednesday and the Raiders started it off with a bang inking Kelechi Osemele and Bruce Irvin to long-term contracts. Osemele was considered the best offensive lineman on the market and Irvin will pair nicely with Khalil Mack to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
But Reggie McKenzie wasn't finished yet. Early Thursday morning, the Raiders added Sean Smith to the haul. What makes the move even sweeter is Oakland was able to snatch away a key playmaker from the rival Kansas City Chiefs.
The cherry on top is the Raiders were able to add these free agents without paying a huge premium.
Bruce Irvin agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $37 million with $12.5 million guaranteed (all in 2016). While that initially looks like a large contract, it is dwarfed by what the Raiders would have had to pay for former Dolphins pass rusher Olivier Vernon.
Oakland was in on the auction for Vernon but eventually backed out as they were not willing to pay his eventual price tag.
After backing out of the Olivier Vernon sweepstakes, Oakland turned their attention to Irvin and shrewdly pried him away from the Seahawks.
Meanwhile, Vernon was in New York signing a massive five-year contract with the Giants worth $85 million with $52.5 million in guaranteed money. That makes him the highest paid defensive end in NFL history. To compare, that is more guaranteed money than J.J. Watt is earning with the Texans ($51.8 million).
The other bargain for the Raiders was former Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, who agreed to a four-year contract worth $40 million with $20 million guaranteed.
Once again, it may seem as if the Raiders overpaid...until you look at the rest of the market. And just like with Vernon, it was the New York Giants dishing out the big bucks as they signed Janoris Jenkins to a five-year contract worth $62.5 million with $29 million guaranteed. The deal makes Jenkins the second highest paid cornerback in the NFL behind only Darrelle Revis.
At the end of the day, Oakland signed Bruce Irvin for less than half of what the Giants are paying Olivier Vernon. Then proceeded to land Sean Smith on a deal worth significantly less than the one Janoris Jenkins signed in New York.
Not plunking down big money means the Raiders still have a lot of cap space to add more quality free agents. One name to watch is Eric Weddle. The Pro Bowl safety has been tied to the Raiders and would fill the void left from the retirement of Charles Woodson. Only time will tell if the Raiders can get a discount on Weddle too, but for now it seems Reggie McKenzie has made the most of his money.