In the height of 2016 Free Agent frenzy, NFL.com decided to remind everyone that sometimes free agent signings work out pretty well. And some work out really, really well. Over their history the Raiders have had a few reclamation projects in the free agent market. NFL.com's Jim Reineking took note of a couple of them in his top 20 Free Agent signings in NFL history.
The first was the quarterback whose addition started the Raiders on the path to the Super Bowl and along the way collected a league MVP trophy.
8. Rich Gannon, 1999
It's amazing to think now, but a decade ago the Oakland Raiders were good. So good that they reached a Super Bowl. So good that they nearly derailed the New England Patriots' to-be dynasty before it even got started. Gannon was a big part of a run of success that netted three consecutive playoff appearances for Oakland from 2000-2002. Gannon was league MVP in 2002, led the Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, where Oakland was unceremoniously dumped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gannon was a major factor in their success in the late 90s and early 00s, but pushing the Raiders over the hump to make that Super Bowl trip was the addition of the GOAT...
20. Jerry Rice, 2001
The Raiders already boasted a talented offense when the team added Rice -- arguably the greatest player in NFL history -- into the mix in 2001. Rice was in the twilight of his glorious career, but still posted two more 1,000-yard receiving seasons to add to his NFL-record 14 such seasons. The move paid huge dividends for the Raiders, who experienced their last seasons of glory while Rice was on the team. In 2001, the Raiders were AFC West champions but lost in the infamous "Tuck Rule" game. In 2002, the Raiders advanced to the Super Bowl, which remains the last playoff game the franchise has played in.
There were actually a few standout free agent additions on the Super Bowl squad, though not all as glamorous as Gannon and Rice. First and foremost was Lincoln Kennedy who was signed in 1996 after the former first round pick had been given up for dead by the Atlanta Falcons. Kennedy went on to be the Raiders everyday starting right tackle for 8 seasons in Oakland, making three straight Pro Bowls in 2000-02 and was named All Pro in 2002.
But for every great signing, there are those that got away. One such player was Charles Woodson who landed at the 6th spot on this list when the Packers signed him away from the Raiders in 2006. Woodson would spend seven season in Green Bay, making four straight Pro Bowls, being named All Pro twice, Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and winning a Super Bowl in 2010. He returned to the Raiders in 2013 where he spent the final three years of his Hall of Fame career, retiring after last season.
The Raiders are hoping a few of their last couple crops of free agents can someday make a list like this. Center Rodney Hudson was their prize signing last year. This year it's Keleche Osemele, Bruce Irvin, and Sean Smith.