While NFL Free Agency does not start until 1:00 pm (PST) on Tuesday, the tampering period was roaring with news over the weekend and plenty of that news caught the interest of Oakland Raiders fans.
It all started when wide receiver Randall Cobb decided to re-sign with the Green Bay Packers. Before that, there were many rumors that Cobb was Oakland’s top target. General manager Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay when the team drafted Cobb and the word was that he was willing to throw everything he could at the young, dynamic pass catcher. The Raiders, who have not had a guy with 1,000 yards receiving since Randy Moss in 2005, was and remains in the market for a quality wide receiver.
After Cobb, the market for free agent wide receivers dropped off dramatically with Jeremy Maclin and Torrey Smith being the next best options. Unfortunately for the Raiders, it appears they will also miss out on both of them as well with Maclin expected to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs and Smith looking like he will sign with the San Francisco 49ers.
The other bad news for the Raiders was that defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is expected to sign with the Miami Dolphins. Suh, easily the best free agent this offseason and probably the best free agent to hit the market since Peyton Manning, would have been a huge upgrade for the Raiders. Given their cap space and desperate need for playmakers just about anywhere, many hoped the team would do whatever it took to bring in Suh. Defensive tackle is not one of the Raiders’ biggest needs, but getting a guy like Suh isn’t just to fill a need.
After a weekend of bad news, Raiders fans finally had some good news Monday morning. It is now expected that the Raiders will sign former Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson. With former starter Stefen Wisniewski set to walk in free agency, center became a huge position of need for the Raiders. Now, not only have they filled that need, they did so with a huge upgrade. While Wisniewski was a solid run blocker, he often struggled in pass protection. Hudson on the other hand, is very good at both and considered by many to be a top five center in the league. With Hudson and second year guard Gabe Jackson, the Raiders have two thirds of their interior offensive line set and it looks very good.
The other good news is not very surprising as the Raiders are considered one of the front runners for defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. The man who goes by Pot Roast would be a huge upgrade at defensive tackle and played for head coach Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville and Denver. He is a very similar mold to second-year tackle Justin Ellis, but that’s OK. He and Ellis will likely play on early downs, allowing Antonio Smith to fill the role he is better suited for as a situational pass rusher. It also gives Ellis a great mentor to learn from in Knighton.
The team still has a long way to go, but the positives are looking pretty good … even if they did suffer a few letdowns along the way.