For the second year in a row the Raiders stole away one of the Chiefs' prize free agents. Last year it was Rodney Hudson, just coming into his own as a full time starter, who the Raiders paid top dollar to bring to Oakland. This year it was cornerback Sean Smith - a move which longtime NFL man, Gil Brandt, sees as one of the more painful losses to his former team of any departing player this offseason.
Said Brandt of Smith's value to the Raiders that the Chiefs will be losing.
Smith, who signed with the Raiders, is the kind of tall, long-armed cornerback everyone's looking for. You could see what kind of improvement the Chiefs made after Smith returned from his three-game suspension last season. I think one of the reasons Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters -- who tied for the league lead with eight picks and racked up the passes defensed -- had as many defensive opportunities as he did is that people stayed away from Smith. I don't think the Chiefs currently have anyone on their roster who can replicate Smith's impact, and I think we might see Peters' stats dip a bit in 2016, just because opponents will stay away from him and target whoever's playing in Smith's place.
The value of a great player signed in free agency is always multiplied if a team can also hurt a division rival in the process. So, while we know Smith helps solidify the Raiders' secondary, it's doubly impactful that it simultaneously weakens the secondary of a team with whom the Raiders are battling for division supremacy.
Speaking of weakening division rivals, the Broncos had two players land on Brandt's list. Topping the list was Brock Osweiler who left for Houston and coming in at number 8 is linebacker Danny Trevathan who followed his former head coach to Chicago. I am a bit surprised the departure of defensive end Malik Jackson didn't make the list. That one's gonna sting a bit.
The Raiders had a loss that made the list as well - Charles Woodson. Here is what Brandt had to say about the void CWood leaves behind with his retirement.
The 39-year-old Woodson didn't have to retire because of lost ability, as he was still making significant contributions to the Raiders (five picks, nine passes defensed, 74 tackles) in his 18th NFL season. He was simply a great leader, someone to whom the younger players flocked, and he helped make his teammates better pros. His biggest plus as a player was getting everyone lined up correctly, and as a result, you didn't see as many missed coverages and cheap touchdowns scored against Oakland as you might have otherwise. Yes, the secondary added Smith, who is a definite upgrade at corner, but in losing Woodson at safety, the unit lost the guy who held the whole game plan together, so to speak. He was a special, special player, a first-ballot Hall of Famer -- the bottom line is, there just aren't many players like him around.
I have nothing to add to what Brandt said. He captured Woodson's value to the Raiders and thereby the presence that will be lost in Oakland from here on out. There is no replacing CWood in that locker room. Even if picking up Sean Smith should help ease the sting on the field of play.