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Raiders need to allow talented receiving corps time to grow

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The Oakland Raiders overhauled the defense through free agency and the draft. However, the brass appears to be standing pat on the offensive side of the ball and giving the passing game time to develop a lasting chemistry.

After spending 2014 on the Raiders practice squad, Seth Roberts has estabblished himself as a capable slot receiver.
After spending 2014 on the Raiders practice squad, Seth Roberts has estabblished himself as a capable slot receiver.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Recently there has been several articles pertaining to the Raiders receiving corps suggesting the team should add another veteran to the mix. While that may be the prevailing wisdom in the age of fast food and highly mobile free agents, Oakland's learned G.M. Reggie McKenzie has stood pat and probably for good reason.

A recent article by Sam Robinson posted on Today's Pigskins argues the "Raiders taking risk by not adding experience at WR." Robinson makes the case that Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts, Andre Holmes, Amari Cooper, Clive Walford, etc. aren't deep enough for "spread sets" and suggests "The Raiders possess the potential to be a good offense; they haven't shown that consistently yet with the players that stand to return." I think Raider Nation would beg to differ with that opinion. I do.

My colleague RDreamer here at S&BP made the case last week that the team should sign Cleveland cast-off Brian Hartline to play the slot. Yes, more depth can only be a positive and Hartline has played some good football in Cleveland, which is a feat in-and-of-itself. The guy has hands like glue and RDreamer obviously has an eye for role players. However, old football war horses like Reggie and coach Jack Del Rio have decades of hindsight on their clipboards. They know how many successful teams of the past built foundations and are in the early stages of that process.

Take, for instance, the glory days of Ken Stabler. The Snake was drafted in 1970 and took over as the Raiders full-time starter in 1973. His pass-catchers were Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. The continuity of those three players wouldn't change until Biletnikoff retired after the 1978 season. With additional help from a few terrific tight ends, Stabler would never have a losing season while leading the Raiders. They captured four division titles, five stints in the playoffs and won Super Bowl XI.

Fast forward to 2016; Derek Carr enters his third season and only backup wide receiver Andre Holmes has been with him on the 53-man roster since being drafted. Crabtree came in as a free agent last season on a show-me deal. Cooper was a 2015 first round draft choice. Fan favorite Roberts was an undrafted free agent relegated to the practice squad in 2014 before a breakout 2015 campaign. Walford, a second-year tight end, only saw significant playing time late in the 2015 season.

The franchise went all-in revamping the defense this year with veterans and draft picks, and the excitement around those moves may leave fans and critics craving more. But for Carr to continue to progress as a franchise quarterback, establishing the type of continuity John Madden and Al Davis provided Stabler is just as important as adding a known set of hands.

It may be that Del Rio and McKenzie are keeping this very talented group of skill players together and unruffled intentionally, giving them time to develop chemistry. Keep in mind, 2016 will only be their second season together as a unit.