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The Curious Case of the Oakland Raiders

by Photo of Gil Santos

The Raiders landed big names, but do the moves make sense?

The Curious Case of the Oakland Raiders

In this article…

The Oakland Raiders are always fun team to follow because of their unpredictability. With almost $60 million to spend in free agency, no one really knew what the Raiders were going to do in such an important off-season. When the free agent frenzy finally began, the Raiders were among the most aggressive teams on the market, landing headline veteran names such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, and LaMarr Woodley. While these moves look pretty good on paper, do they make sense? 

At first glance, not really. The Raiders are a rebuilding team who need to get younger, not older. They should probably stray away from giving 30-plus-year-old players on the decline multi-year contracts. However, if you delve a little deeper, the moves do make some sense for the Raiders. 

The Raiders inked Tuck (New York Giants) and Antonio Smith (Houston Texans) to two-year deals to fill the hole in the defensive line left by LaMarr Houston, who departed for the Chicago Bears. Also, they brought in former Pittsburgh Steeler LaMarr Woodley to give them a potential electrifying pass rusher if he can stay healthy and find his game again. While these players are older and seemingly at the tail ends of their careers, they are proven winners (especially Tuck and Woodley, who have previously won Super Bowls). The Raiders need guys like them to change the losing culture around the franchise. Moreover, while on the surface their deals are for two years, the Raiders can easily cut them after next season without cap penalties because of the way their contracts are structured. Tuck, Woodley, and Smith are stop gaps that can help the team win now and assist them in the future as well by mentoring the younger players. The Raiders desperately need leaders along with Charles Woodson, and these guys will provide it. 

Oakland also added two older offensive guys in Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) and James Jones (Green Bay Packers). Jones is another guy who has won a Super Bowl before and is a reliable and productive wide receiver. Last season, Jones caught 59 passes for 817 yards and three touchdowns. 

With Darren McFadden's constant injury problems, they needed a workhouse running back to rely on for consistent production. Jones-Drew can be that guy as he has been mostly healthy for his career, playing at least 14 games in seven of his eight seasons. However, Jones-Drew was a bit disappointing in 2013 as he rushed for 803 yards and five touchdowns on 234 carries. His 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of his career. Maybe a return to his hometown will reinvigorate the 29-year old running back and he can get to producing at a Pro Bowl level. The deal between Jones-Drew and the Raiders is expected to be a three-year deal, but it should structured in a way that it doesn't hurt Oakland in the future. 

While the Raiders are becoming older as a team, they are also getting smarter. They added players who have won before and are great for the locker room atmosphere. The Raiders have gone 11 years without sniffing the playoffs, so it's about time they change the culture.

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