Today the Raiders added veteran cornerback Leon Hall, adding to a free agent class that appears to be heavy on older players. The 33-year-old corner becomes the 8th player the team either added or re-signed this offseason who will be in their 30’s before the start of next season.
They are as follows:
S Reggie Nelson (34)
WR Jordy Nelson (33)
CB Leon Hall (33)
OT Breno Giacomini (32)
QB Josh Johnson (32)
CB Shareece Wright (31)
LS Andrew DePaola (31)
TE Lee Smith (30)
Gruden has made no bones about wanting to add veterans. It’s his MO. Eight players 30 or older seems like a lot. Until you consider this is out of a total 20 veteran free agents either added or re-signed by the Raiders. That means 8 players is just 40%.
The average age of the players the Raiders added or re-signed is just a shade under 30 (29.7). But not all free agent additions are equal.
Of the players who are 30+ who as of this moment will be expected to be major contributors are Jordy Nelson, Shareece Wright, Andrew DePaola, and Lee Smith. With only Nelson pegged as a starter. That drops the significant percentage of signed players over 30 to 20%.
That’s a much lower percentage than one might think if you have been following along with those who are yucking it up about Jon Gruden signing a 2011 Super Bowl squad.
I’m even going to suggest they add another one — 30-year-old NaVorro Bowman. Then they can make all the jokes they want because returning the team’s leading tackler and middle linebacker at this point would be a major win.
There are actually more major contributors signed who are still fairly young. Namely LB Tahir Whitehead (28), CB Rashaan Melvin (28), FB Keith Smith (26), DT Justin Ellis (27), S Marcus Gilchrist (29) and ST/LB Kyle Wilber (29). With only Whitehead and Melvin as full time starters.
If you look just at the ages of just the major contributors, the average goes down slightly to 29.2. Jordy Nelson is the oldest and Keith Smith the youngest.
If you are looking for a criticism here it’s that perhaps instead of signing so many players who are older and not expected to start or contribute much, they should have added younger players who were. I am not going to presume which players those would have been, however. It’s simply a valid criticism for a team with as many needs as this team has.
What you certainly should not get upset about is adding a guy like Leon Hall. This late in free agency, it can’t hurt to add anyone. Outside of potential salary cap ramifications, If he doesn’t work out, what did his addition really matter? He knows DC Paul Guenther’s system. Just like Reggie Nelson and Emmanuel Lamur. That could mean nothing more than to help the youngsters acclimate to it. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll be on the roster come the season.
So, yeah, Gruden likes vets. He’s signed a few. How much does this really matter though? Probably not a whole lot.