Ndamukong Suh

Why Raiders fans should temper their expectations in free agency

The Oakland Raiders have a ton of cap space and will need to spend most of it in order to meet the league-mandated salary floor. Over the first two years of the four-year salary floor period, the Raiders have spent only 80.2% of their salary cap. They’ll need to get to 89% for that period over the next two years. That means the team needs to do a whole lot of spending in order to get there, but they aren’t the only ones.

Other NFL teams also find themselves in a similar situation to the Raiders and will need to spend a lot of money over the next couple of years. Here are the nine teams who are currently under the spending minimum and the percentage of the cap they have spent over the past two years:

  • Carolina Panthers – 80.8%
  • New York Jets – 81.16%
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – 82.2%
  • Dallas Cowboys – 82.6%
  • New England Patriots – 82.7%
  • New Orleans Saints – 86.2%
  • Washington Redskins – 87%
  • New York Giants – 87.9%
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – 88.3%

So what does this mean for the Raiders, the team with the most to spend?

It means they’ll have some stiff competition for free agents this offseason. This year’s group of available players is bigger and better than it has been in years. The problem is that the Raiders remain a fairly unpopular destination for free agents. Not only is the team coming off a three-win campaign, they’ve only managed to win 11 games over the last three seasons. In addition, as has been noted by many, California teams have a hard time signing free agents given the fact that income taxes in California are so high.

suh barkleyThe Raiders will surely go after some big targets, but it takes more than cap space and a need to spend to convince players to sign a contract. Raiders fans are right for hoping the team will get some big name free agents unlike in years past. But fans should also temper their expectations, because they’ll probably need to drastically overpay guys (like the defensive lineman pictured above, for instance) to get anyone who’ll turn the Raiders into a playoff contender.

That’s a lot of practical thinking for one blog post. Let’s check out NFL.com’s “six best landing spots” for Ndamukong Suh for a little daydreaming fuel.

So where will Suh land? Let’s pick the most likely landing spots.

Oakland Raiders

They have a boatload of salary cap room to spend and a need under new NFL rules to spend to the new salary cap “floor.” They also have an owner and general manager that are desperate for a turnaround for different reasons. (GM Reggie McKenzie wants to keep his job. Owner Mark Davis would love to have a winner while the future location of his franchise is up for grabs.) Wouldn’t Suh make sense continuing the tradition of renegade-Raiders defenders?

Suh has said publicly that he’ll let his agent choose his next team. Like most players, he’s going to the highest bidder. Unlike most players, Suh is honest about it. Oakland appears to be the most likely team to make Suh the richest defensive player in NFL history.

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