2013 Raiders team needs heading into free agency
By Levi Damien on Feb 12, 6:09p
The Raiders have a few needs to fill this off-season. These are those needs:
The next major date this offseason will be March 12. That's when the new league year begins and therefore free agency opens up.
The Raiders have a great many positions that could use filling, upgrading, or depth. Here is my breakdown of what those positions are.
Raiders stand to lose both of their 2012 starting defensive tackles this offseason. Richard Seymour was lost to injuries last season and the team voided his contract last week. Tommy Kelly's salary cap number is far too high and he is likely to be cut as well. Their departures leave the team very thin at the defensive tackle position. The only proven starter remaining is Desmond Bryant who is set to be a free agent himself. The team is already desperate for a starter and if they lose Bryant they would need two new starters.
The team gave up on Rolando McClain last season and they are expected to cut him this off-season. When McClain was suspended last season and didn't play in the final five games, the Raiders signed Omar Gaither to take his position in the lineup but he is not a solid starter. They must find a new middle linebacker this season whether it be a proven starter or selection in the upcoming draft.
There was a great deal of turnover among the cornerbacks on this team last season. The starters coming into the season were Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, both of whom were lost to injury by week two. Spencer was placed on IR and is not expected back and Bartell was cut. Since then, the team has gone through several different corners including switching Michael Huff to corner. Huff could stay at corner or he could move back to free safety. What the team decides to do with him will decide which position they need between either cornerback or free safety.
Finding a number one receiver has to be a high priority for this team. None of the receivers on the current roster have shown enough to prove they can be that guy. There is of course former number seven overall pick Darrius Heyward-Bey who has disappointed and is a likely cap casualty. After that, there are several receivers including Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, and Juron Criner who have yet to step up and take control as the team's top receiving target.
Carson Palmer was under a lot of pressure last season from the right tackle position. Khalif Barnes is set to become a free agent and even if he is re-signed, the team would like to find an upgrade and/or future replacement at the right tackle position.
The Raiders had very little semblance of a pass rush last season. This improved in December but they still finished the season without a pass rusher over 4.0 sacks. The two starting defensive ends are Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy who had 4.0 and 3.5 sacks respectively. Shaughnessy and his backup Andre Carter are both set to become a free agents and it is not for certain the team will re-sign either or both of them.
Brandon Myers caught a lot of balls last season but that was more a product of the offense as well as the lack of downfield options. He has also struggled with blocking. There is no indication David Ausberry will be stepping up to be a factor in this offense. The Raiders must try to bring in a strong threat at the tight end position.
This is the last year of Darren McFadden's contract. Even with him on the team, he has never played a full season. Behind him, there isn't a great second option. Marcel Reece and Mike Goodson showed some flashes last season but that was in the zone blocking scheme and the team is switching back to power blocking. A starting caliber back to share carries with McFadden, take over when he is injured, and replace him in 2014 is needed.
The starter is Carson Palmer until further notice. What the Raiders need is depth and/or another young QB to develop. Matt Leinart was the primary backup last season but he is a free agent and may not be brought back. They have Terrelle Pryor but there is no guarantee he is ready to step in and lead this team. A third QB is needed.
The Raiders have been spoiled by the greatest punter of all time on their roster the past 12 years. Shane Lechler has been paid very well for his services too. But the new regime appears unwilling to pay him as much as he has made the past few years and Lechler is likely to move on. They have former undrafted free agent signee, Marquette King, waiting in the wings but there is no reason to believe the job is his to lose. Unless Lechler is re-signed, the team will bring in competition for the punting job.