As the clock hits exactly a week since the free agency wheeling and dealing opened, the reviews are beginning to pour in on what the Raiders have done so far. One glowing endorsement comes from Pro Football Focus who has only Brock Osweiler as a bigger winner than Oakland.
Osweiler got big money from the Texans (4 years, $72 million) after starting part of last season in place of the injured Peyton Manning. The Broncos went 5-2 over Osweiler's 7 starts for the same reason they went on to win the Super Bowl -- that defense. But Osweiler parlayed those starts into a big payday in Houston, so, yeah, winning.
But outside of Osweiler's personal fortune, the Raiders collected a bounty of three top free agents which puts them ahead of all other NFL teams in the eyes of Pro Football Focus. As Sam Monson said:
Don't look now, but the Raiders have been moving in the right direction for quite awhile, and suddenly look like a pretty talented side top to bottom, albeit with a few more holes still in need of attention. None of them were exactly bargains, but adding Kelechi Osemele, Bruce Irvin, and Sean Smith to the team should provide three significant upgrades in three different areas of the roster.
Smith has allowed fewer than 60 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught every season of his career, and Osemele has been one of the best run-blocking guards in the league. The only concern with him would be how he holds up as a pass-protector if they intend to play him at tackle. Irvin is a versatile player that can rush the passer and get by on early downs as a stand-up linebacker. With the draft still to come, Oakland looks like a legitimate force in 2016.
PFF also tweeted out a nifty stat that shows a complete turnaround in the Raiders starting cornerback duo to just six months ago, with Sean Smith joining David Amerson.
After signing Casey Hayward, San Diego joins Arizona, Buffalo and Oakland as only teams with 2 CBs in top 16 of PFF grades— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 13, 2016
They weren't the only one to laud the Raiders' free agent signings. NFL.com had all three additions in their top 15 available Free Agents.
It's important to note that 'winning' free agency doesn't always translate to winning games. By the same token, it's important to note that the Raiders didn't go bananas trying to sign all the top names and throwing out huge contracts to do it like the Giants, Dolphins, and Jaguars did -- none of whom were among PFF's winners this offseason.
Other winners include the Chiefs who were able to hold onto quite a few of their own players (aside from Sean Smith, of course) and the Bears, who took a similar approach as the Raiders did.