Have you caught your breath yet? The Oakland Raiders made Thursday a whirlwind with the signing of seven players and the release of veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Three of our staff give you their reaction to the team’s NFL free agency moves and what it might mean for the Silver and Black in 2018.
Just 24-hours after Raider Nation slipped into mass hysteria at the lack of big moves being made by the team since the start of the 2018 NFL Free Agency season on Wednesday, they had plenty to ponder as the Oakland Raiders signed seven free agents and released a big name veteran.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie, whos sources tell us has been working diligently with new head coach Jon Gruden to address the team’s needs in NFL free agency, kept the Raiders media relations staff busy yesterday signing both offensive and defensive additions to his roster. In the list of players coming to Oakland for next season, you can see the work being done to shore up positions on both sides of the ball. You can also see the influence of Gruden and Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther in who the Raiders chose to bring onboard.
The senior writing staff of the Las Vegas Raiders Report held a virtual roundtable last night to give you our thoughts on some the NFL free agency signings and what it means for the Raiders next season.
Jordy Nelson – Wide Receiver
Hayden Nadolny, Sr. NFL Writer: This one is bittersweet for me. I felt he (McKenzie) would’ve added more a third receiver with Michael Crabtree (who was released yesterday) and Amari Cooper. But given the type of signings we’ve seen so far, it really appears Gruden is building around run heavy formations so maybe a third receiver isn’t on the field much at all anyway.
Scott Winter, Sr. NFL Writer/Columnist: I consider this an improvement over last year’s Crabtree. Don’t get me wrong, Crab had some great moments in Silver and Black, but I feel Raider Nation is going to quickly fall in love with Nelson. He catches the ball, blocks, runs fantastic routes, and he is very good at uncovering in the scramble drill. A real lunch-pail guy who works his tail off.
Scott Gulbransen, Publisher/Editor: Forget the rumors on Crabtree and the issues in the locker room. Nelson brings a level of maturity and football IQ that is going to help the younger receiving corps and veterans as well. He was beloved in Green Bay and still has a lot of gas in the tank. From the moment he steps on the field, Raider Nation will dig the guy for sure.
Doug Martin – Running Back
Winter: A healthy Doug Martin (whose nickname is the classic “Muscle Hampster”), behind this Raiders O-line, has a solid chance of being lethal. He is on a one-year “prove It” deal but I really like the run oriented moves the Raiders are making and pairing Martin with Lynch or a fullback like Olawale or Smith is an energizing thought.
Nadolny: It’s hard to have an opinion without knowing the contractual terms. It just seems like he’s a guy who hasn’t played well in many years and at his age, it seems questionable as to how much he has left in the tank.
Gulbransen: I really like Doug Martin. I really love the Doug Martin of 3-4 seasons ago. I am cautiously optimistic about him. If he can remain healthy, coming home to the West Coast, this has the makings of a bargain deal that could pay dividends in Gruden’s offensive scheme.
Keith Smith – Fullback
Gulbransen: This is a big sleeper pick-up in my view. Smith was made to run in Gruden’s offense and he is a throwback, old school, poke-em-in-the-eye type football player. He also is a West Coast guy having played at San Jose State. This is the type of Raiders player that reminds be of the days of old. Great signing.
Winter: Extremely versatile fullback. Great blocker and fantastic special teams player. Fits Jon Gruden’s style of smash mouth football to a T! Raiders fans are going to love this kid.
Nadolny: Favorite signing so far. A nasty, hard nosed run blocking fullback. Was very good leading Zeke Elliott the past 2 years into the hole. Wouldn’t say that this means Olawale’s time as a raider is in jeopardy because Gruden has had multiple fullbacks on a roster before (Crockett and Ritchie).
Derek Carrier – Tight End
Winter: Run blocking TE, not quite as good as Lee Smith, but athletic. Depth.
Gulbransen: To win in the NFL, and go far in the playoffs, you need depth. Carrier isn’t Lee Smith but he’s important.
Marcus Gilchrist – Safety
Nadolny: Long time starter in the league who is very dependable and versatile. Can play all over the field, which will make it easier for Reggie McKenzie to fill in the gaps via the draft through a BPA setting.
Gulbransen: Had a great start to his career in San Diego, but then fell off and has seen a few stops since. But, again, depth is a good thing and this move was more about insurance and having a body who is capable than singing a game-changer.
Winter: Journeyman Safety, can handle “Green Dot”duties and quarterback a defense. Consistent, but not elite. One year deal gives Raiders a stop gap. Very Versatile.
Tahir Whitehead – Linebacker
Winter: Pure run stopping thumper, IE fantastic run stopper. Six year veteran, all with the Lions. Can play all the LB positions. At a reported $6 Mil a year, probably going to be the MLB, unless a miracle happens and Bowman comes back. Weak vs the pass.
Nadolny: He has played all three linebacker positions in Detroit. Extremely durable. Excels in stuffing the run but is a liability in pass coverage. I wonder if they will move him from Will to Mike this year, which would effectively end Bowmans time in Oakland. Not sure you can have both Bowman and Whitehead as the cover linebackers when both are primarily run stuffing guys.
Gulbransen: I think this means we’ve seen the last of Bowman, unfortunately, in Oakland. They will have to move Whitehead to MLB due to his weakness against the pass. I love the guy’s intensity and he is the definition of tough.
Phew. But are the Raiders done in NFL free agency? Hell no says Gruden who had this special message for Raider Nation after yesterday’s busy day:
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) March 16, 2018