Well it's been a long time coming and a lot of hard work but now I can say I now have an official website! Please everyone go to www.TheRaidersDaily.com Just click the picture logo and it will bring you to the new site! I just wanted to say thank you to all of you that have supported The Raiders Daily and stuck by me as I did my best and will continue to do my best covering The Raiders. There is no denying how far The Raiders Daily has come in just 2 years since it's official start up. Now I need to say that in reality I did not just come out of nowhere. I actually been in this kind of business for a long time I just never had my own thing. I just want all of Raider Nation to know this is not just a "job" to me, this is a dream come true for me. I grew up in Massachusetts as a Raiders fan. I'm also proud to say I'm still a fan and I will always be one. There are some that say "You can't cover a team and be a fan" but I don't care what they say, I'm doing this on my own and personally I think being a fan has actually helped me. So yeah, I do care if Raiders win or lose. I want The Raiders to win every game not just as a guy who covers the Raiders but as a fan and more importantly as a member of Raider Nation..
So please follow me on twitter @TheRaidersDaily or go on facebook and find me and more importantly go to TheRaidersDaily.com for all Raiders news! I can promise you this and I think I have proven all the doubters and trolls this as well. I'm not being arrogant when I say I'm the best in the world at what I do, I have proven time and time again I'm accurate. If you want confirmation look at my timeline on twitter this offseason and see the results. I break Raiders news before anybody. Now obviously in some cases we all get the news at the same time but I can't control that! So in closing thank you, thank all of Raider Nation and I even want to thank the trolls and doubters since all you did was actually make me better.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has been a busy man trying to find a permanent home for his franchise, Davis has met with people from San Antonio to Las Vegas desperately searching for a long term home base for The Raiders organization. Mark Davis wanted The Raiders in LA but unfortunately the NFL owner committee voting against the Silver and Black and instead chose Rams and Chargers for the move. So what's next for Mark Davis? The only option is to find a temp home and that temp home is going to have to be the O.co where The Raiders have been calling home since returning in 1995. Obviously Mark Davis is not happy about this and I don't know how anybody could blame him. The Oakland Coliseum (O.co) is the smallest stadium in the NFL and it also has holes in ceilings, sewage problems and a host of others but for the 2016 season The Raiders will once again be calling the dump home. Raiders owner would like a new stadium in Oakland but the city has declined to use public funds for a new NFL stadium for The Raiders. Lot's of people criticize Davis for not using his "own" money to build in Oakland which is a shame. The NFL is big business that brings big dollars into cities, no wonder why Vegas and San Antonio wants The Raiders so badly. The Mayor of Oakland does not want to use tax payer money to keep The Raiders as she has publicly stated she would rather spend tax dollars on libraries rather than an NFL team. My question is what generates more money to the city, Libraries or an NFL team? But I stay out of the politics of new stadiums, land, tolls, off-ramps and parking. My only gripe is people making Mark Davis out to be an evil, greedy person when it comes to this stadium issue. What about the other 29 stadium that have received public funds for construction or renovation? Mark Davis simply is doing what 29 other owners have done. Why should he be any different than Jerry Jones? Why should The Raiders be any different than 29 other teams? The Raiders in my opinion, are just as big of an brand than The Cowboys are and that's exactly how Mark Davis wants to be treated and he deserves to be. Nobody knows where The Raiders will be in 2017 and beyond but what we do know is for now The Raiders are staying in Oakland. Yes, that's not a "win" for Davis and The Raiders. Oakland residents will have The Raiders for 2016, this is what they wanted as you seen on the signs "Stay in Oakland" so they get their wish at least for 2016 season. The only problem now is how this mess is going to actually affect The Raiders football operations? Free Agency is going to be tough for GM Reggie McKenzie. How is he going to convince big time free agents to come play for a team that has no home? One thing is certain McKenzie cannot afford another losing season and perhaps it may not be fair due to circumstances but this is The NFL.... It's big business and this is The Raiders where the motto will always remain the same for Raider Nation....."Just Win Baby"
While the only Raiders news out there right now is dominated by where the Raiders will play next season I start looking at not where but when Raiders play next season. L.A or Oakland one thing is certain Raiders will be playing football and they got to address several issues to be a real contender in 2016. So I will leave the debates of land, tolls ,off-ramps and tax dollars to others while I focus on my favorite RAIDER time of season, the offseason. Although it truly is not as fun as it once was with the great Al Davis running the show it's still fun to see what decisions come next for GM Reggie McKenzie.
Let's start with who Raiders recap of last seasons free agent signings and see how well that went:
S Nate Allen, P Steven Clark, CB James Dockery, RB Roy Helu, Jr., LB Curtis Lofton, QB Christian Ponder, RB Trent Richardson, TE Lee Smith, LB Malcolm Smith, T J'Marcus Webb, DT Dan Williams, WR Michael Crabtree
Okay so Reggie McKenzie obviously made some huge mistakes in free agency last year. Quick recap shows that Ponder QB did not even make the squad nor did the risk in Trent Richardson work out. Those names don't really matter nor did anybody think they were big pieces to new head coach Jack Del Rio's never ending puzzle of trying to find the right guys to fit and win in Oakland. The biggest money free Agents were on guys like Curtis Lofton who signed a 3-year 18 million dollar deal. Lofton was perhaps the biggest mistake in free agency in McKenzie era. Opposing QB's completed nearly 100% of passes against Lofton, QB's rating when throwing against Lofton were almost perfect (according to PFF) and got benched for a rookie in Neiron Ball.... Luckily McKenzie is smart at knowing how to get out of contracts and structures these deals with easy outs. Make sure to scroll below to look at contract details and see how to get out..
Nate Allen: The theme continues as Allen was another free agent disaster signing. Allen was mostly injured though through out season so some could say that's a good excuse for McKenzie. Nate Allen was signed to a whopping 4-year 23 million dollar deal but remember McKenzie does a good job as somebody who knows how to structure these big contracts. Do the Raiders cut Allen though remains a mystery since Raiders do have a very weak secondary. Allen only appeared in 5 games this season, had 11 tackles with one INT. He could not stay healthy and was not that productive but Reggie could give him another shot or should he? Scroll below to look at contract details.
Roy Helu Jr: Total Disaster.... That's how you could sum up Roy Helu season with The Raiders. Helu was brought in to help RB Latavius Murray as the second back as well help QB Derek Carr in the screen pass game but he did none of that. I'm about to present to you Roy Helu stats but caution these stats are not for 2 quarters of a football game nor a single game, this is Helu's stats for the season: 14 carries for 34 yards, 7 catches for 52 yards and 1 touchdown! Not to mention Helu was so bad he was a healthy scratch some games. Raiders will be cutting Helu with that kind of production. Make sure to scroll below for contract details.
Those are the guys that were the "big 3" free agents, now all 3 (maybe only 2) will be cut. Reggie McKenzie did not 100% strike out though. Raiders did sign Michael Crabtree who turned out to be not only Raiders best WR but maybe one of the best in the entire NFL in 2015. Raiders rewarded Crabtree with an extension which is great news for the organization. McKenzie also did not miss on Dan Williams. Williams had a decent year and will be back in the lineup in 2016. Reggie McKenzie also signed Malcolm Smith who is a good backup linebacker but obviously not a starter. So 2015 offseason free agency was not a total failure just about a 90% failure.
Now Let's recap 2015 Draft for The Raiders. Raiders were coming off a terrible 3 win season so they were awarded a 4th overall pick in 2015, with that pick Raiders selected Alabama's Amari Cooper. Cooper began the year with The Raiders with a hot start. The world got to see what Cooper was capable of as he shook of defenders and made some monster plays. Then week 7 came and Cooper struggles started to happen. Amari Cooper who was catching everything prior now could not catch a simple 5 yard pass, he ended the season with second most drops in NFL and to make matters worst Cooper had a foot injury late in the season to slow him down. Good news is Raiders know what Cooper is capable of and there is no doubt Cooper is going to be a star in The NFL as even with the second half of season slump he still got over 1000 yards catching to end his rookie campaign. Other 2015 draft picks included 2nd rounder Mario Edwards JR who got an opportunity to start mid-season and looked pretty good along side the great Khalil Mack but unfortunately Edwards got injured badly. Edwards sustained a neck injury and his return status even for 2016 is up in the air right now. Raiders also selected Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball in the 5th round. Neiron Ball got a chance to play LB when Curtis Lofton was terrible (see above) Ball was one of the main reasons teams could no longer exploit The Raiders with the tight end position but unfortunately for Ball he got injured(Knee) which is a concern since it's the same knee he had microfracture surgery on before the draft. Heeney meanwhile was mostly on special teams until he got a chance due to a weak linebacker corps. Heeney did what he was advertised to do, he flew around the field making tackles and his coaches love his work ethic but Heeney is a bit undersized and had trouble stopping big running backs who over powered him. Heeney though only had 3 starts and with 2.5 sacks will find his way in different packages on the defense in 2016. Clive Walford was another draft selection by Raiders (3rd round) Walford had a few good moments but never lived up to the praise The Raiders staff had for him. Walford often missed blocks and ran the wrong routes but he also did catch some great passes thrown his way. Look for Walford to be in a much bigger role in the 2016 season. Other mentions in the draft include Jon Feliciano (guard) who had playing time at the end of the season starting last 3 games, obviously he needs some work, the biggest issue with Feliciano is his pass protection which Raiders knew he was a raw talent coming in. Luckily Raiders have the best O Line coach in The NFL in Mike Tice.
So there are some good things and bad things about last years offseason. We got to see how good the players are that McKenzie drafted and there are some bright spots there. I did not list everyone Raiders drafted since there are guys that did not even make the active roster or were picked off Raiders practice squad example Bills took Max Valles of Raiders practice squad. Jack Del Rio knows he needs players at key positions so McKenzie is going to have to do a much better job in 2016 offseason at helping his team either draft or via free agency. The biggest area of concerns for this Raiders team on defense is secondary and Linebacker. Both positions are so thin and both lack talent. Raiders did find a diamond in a rough with David Amerson who Raiders claimed off waivers from Washington. Amerson emerged as a real play maker and Raiders best cornerback. Amerson took former 1st round pick DJ Hayden spot at CB which is obviously a huge blow to GM Reggie McKenzie. Head coach Jack Del Rio ended up benching Hayden due to lack of production in favor of David Amerson. Raiders also got to address needs on the offense as well. Raiders WR's Crabtree and Cooper did a good job in 2015 but after that you are down to Seth Roberts who outside of couple game winning touchdowns has not been that productive through out season. Andre Homes is listed at the 4th WR. Holmes made some good catches but he was not very productive through out season either as he averaged only 1 catch per game plus Holmes is a free agent. Raiders need a solid 3rd WR to help the young franchise QB Derek Carr. Seth Roberts is a 4-5th WR on this team or at least he should be if Raiders want to be competing for Superbowls. Raiders biggest need on offense though is Running back. Latavius Murray is coming off a 1000 yard season but it sure does not feel like it and even Murray echoed those thoughts. Latavius Murray is a guy that is capable of that home run, 80 yard run to the house at any hand off but he's not a guy that is a work horse that can be productive throughout 4 quarters of all 16 games. Raiders are in the market for another RB to go along with Murray. Some would of thought maybe that guy would be Raiders Pro Bowler Marcel Reece but Reece is not involved in Del Rio's and offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave plans as Reece role diminished in 2015 season and now Reece is suspended for next 4 games in 2016 for using PED's. Raiders could release Reece but that will be the most interesting cap casualty since it's well known Raiders owner Mark Davis loves Reece. Raiders have some decisions to make on their own guys that are free agents, that list includes the likes of Donald Penn, Justin Tuck, Khalif Barnes, Marquette King, Tony Bergstrom and as stated Andre Holmes.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 as we explore the free agent market and on Part 3 the Draft. It's the offseason for the Raiders and this time it may be the most important offseason in decades. The Raiders are obviously a better team under new coach Jack Del Rio. This team fell short in a lot of games that maybe they should of won in 2015. Also it would be important to note that 2015 was also the last year of Charles Woodson's career which is hall of fame caliber. Woodson leaving leaves a huge hole on defense and as leadership for this young Raiders team. Raiders may have ended the season 7-9 but like a former Raiders Head Coach once said "they can't call us losers anymore"
UPDATE: This is what the whole salary cap would look like if players were cut (thanks to friends at http://www.spotrac.com/
Prior to training camp, the Raiders would accrue $2,192,036 in dead cap, a savings of $1,137,777. Once training camp starts his roster bonus vests, making the Raiders on the hook for the entire $3,284,813.
If they cut /trade him prior to March 11th, the Raiders would save the full $5M he's owed (no dead cap). His $4.9M salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 11th, and would automatically turn into dead cap if cut.
The Raiders will save the full $2M cap if he's released (no dead cap).
The Raiders will save the full $5.5M cap if he's released (no dead cap)
The Raiders will accrue $880,838 in dead cap with his release, a savings of $2.65M
So do The Raiders move on from these guys? We will see as the 2016 offseason begins. It should be fun. Remember you can follow The Raiders Daily on facebook at Facebook.com/TheRaidersDaily and you can also follow at twitter @TheRaidersDaily . Thank You to Sportrac.com for the salary cap info. Thank you to ESPN. Look for Part 2 coming next month!