As Raiders fans ride the free agent rollercoaster from the highs of signing big names to the lows of watching other top targets sign elsewhere, it can help to realize Oakland has never been a hotter free agent destination than it is right now.
The heat began last offseason when the Raiders, armed with considerable cap space, landed several starters in free agency including Rodney Hudson, Malcolm Smith, Dan Williams, and Michael Crabtree. But that was just a spark on the kindling for the blaze happening in Oakland now.
After a resurgent season that saw the Raiders jump from 3-11 in 2014 to 7-9 in 2015, the league sees them as an up and coming team. Add in that most of the talent that got them there is still young and the window for them is just now opening. Players no longer feel like joining the Raiders is giving up on having a shot at the Super Bowl.
One such statement came from Eric Weddle, who said in the same statement that he would like to join a Super Bowl contender and put the Raiders on his short list along with the Patriots, Steelers, and Panthers.
Then there's this from Raiders former middle linebacker, Kirk Morrison.
Received text messages late last night and this morning from current active players and free agents and all were about @Raiders cont....— Kirk Morrison (@kirkmorrison) March 9, 2016
One Free Agent player texted me "I need to get to Oakland Bro, they not playing around". #PlayersTakingNotice— Kirk Morrison (@kirkmorrison) March 9, 2016
Another text from current player "With Peyton out of that division, it has Oakland or Kansas City written all over it" #PlayersTakingNotice— Kirk Morrison (@kirkmorrison) March 9, 2016
Keep in mind that Morrison is from Oakland and spent most of his NFL career with the Raiders, so obviously he is a bit biased. For that reason, it makes sense players would text him to talk about Oakland. But even with the clear bias, where there's smoke, there's fire.
The Raiders have already given attractive free agent deals to Kelechi Osemele that makes puts him at either the highest paid guard or among the highest paid tackles, depending on where he lines up. Then they made Bruce Irvin a top five paid outside linebacker.
Free agents see the contracts they are handing out, the deals to reward good play like they gave Crabtree last season, the multitudes of money they still have to spend, and the young team on the rise, and it makes a trip to Oakland one of the more enticing in the league.
Free Agency opens at 1pm Pacific time today. Players can start officially signing contracts and making travel plans at that time.