The Oakland Raiders will hit NFL free agency with a ton of cap space. However, they also have 24 expiring contracts. While many of those contracts are for depth guys who can be replaced or re-signed cheaply, it still takes cap space to do so.
Plus, there are also a number of starters or key role players whose contracts are expiring as well. When it comes time to begin re-signing guys prior to the start of free agency, Reggie McKenzie will have some big decisions to make.
Given his emphasis on maintaining good salary cap habits, McKenzie is likely to re-sign anyone who agrees to his vision of their value while letting everyone else hit the market. McKenzie comes from a school of thought that you build through the draft and do not spend frivolously in free agency.
Generally this is a very good way of running an NFL franchise. It helps maintain consistency as guys signed through the draft will sign long-term deals at a cheaper cost. But the other great part about running a team this way is that it does allow for the occasional big free agent signing or re-signing.
Take Charles Woodson for example. No, not when he re-signed with the Raiders but when he signed with the Packers. It was during McKenzie’s time with Green Bay and it represented a major departure from the typical Green Bay philosophy since he signed a rather large contract.
In the end, that move turned out pretty well for the Packers.
So while McKenzie does not believe in overspending in free agency, he likely also understands that some players are simply going to be very expensive, but can help your team in a big way. Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer is one of those guys.
There are a lot of free agents that the Raiders would love to have back in 2014, but only at the right price. Pretty much every free agent is expendable if they are asking for too much money. Every one except Veldheer.
Building solid offensive and defensive lines is crucial to the success of an NFL team. If you cannot win in the trenches, you need absolutely dynamic stars in the skill positions to make up for it. But the Raiders are completely devoid of that kind of star player.
What they do have is a franchise left tackle who has shown that he’s capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level in the NFL. He’s got the size (6-8, 322) and he’s a dedicated student of the game. He returned from a torn triceps last season and did not miss a snap while playing extremely well for someone who had missed that much time.
Veldheer is easily the best player on the Raiders roster and to lose him would create a huge hole. If ever there was a Raiders free agent that was a guy McKenzie must break his rule on, it’s Veldheer. No matter what it takes, McKenzie has to make sure that Veldheer never hits the free agent market, because if he does there is no doubt someone will massively overpay for him. Given that, it’s okay if the Raiders extend themselves a little bit in order to ensure they maintain one of the most important building blocks for a young team.