Cleat Geeks

Oakland Raiders Offseason 2015 “Might makes Right”

The late Al Davis used to have an old saying. Actually, he had many old sayings. One saying spoke directly to how he believed all Raider teams should be built. This saying, quite simply was “Might makes Right.” While this aphorism was most often used in negative assessments of expressions of power, Mr Davis didn’t see it that way. Then again this is the Raiders, so maybe he did. What it really meant in terms of building your football team was that you pursued the biggest players. The strongest players. The fastest players. Over the last dozen years with the Raiders reaching remarkable lows in their on field performance, the idea of drafting and acquiring players with amazing “measurables” but little in the way of football IQ and desire has turned the Raiders offseason into annual ridicule. And rightfully so. The swings and misses on players who were Combine warriors reads like a who’s who of futility.

One of the Raider's 1st round busts, JaMarcus Russell.

One of the Raider’s 1st round busts, JaMarcus Russell.

Since 2000, beginning with place kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders first round picks are as follows: Derrick Gibson, Phillip Buchanon, Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery, Fabian Washington, Michael Huff, Jamarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rolando McClain, and DJ Hayden. Even the most ardent football fan can be forgiven for not knowing many of the names on this list. How could you? Many of them were gone in a flash and the ones who had more staying power certainly never lived up to the hype. We won’t begin a list of the overpaid free agent players who came to Oakland on massive contracts only to implode. Many in the twilight of their career just seeking one last payday. That borders on the edge of cruel and unusual. But if you’re into horror, go ahead and look up Larry Brown, Javon Walker or Deangelo Hall. None of it is pretty. Neither was the 2014 season. But that’s the beauty of sports. With every offseason comes the promise of change and improvement. With plenty of cap room to use and the 4th overall pick in this year’s draft, here are some scenarios/players that might help the 2015 Raiders return to might.

According to overthecap.com, the Raiders currently have roughly $56 million in cap space. That is before you factor in the cutting of more recent free agent duds Matt Schaub, Lamarr Woodley and Maurice Jones-Drew. Cuts like these and a few other moves could have the Raiders operating close to a whopping $70 million over the salary cap. While Raiders General Manager Reggie Mckenzie correctly subscribes to the theory that teams are built through the draft and not free agency, there is no way that any team would or should sit on that type of cap space. Furthermore, under the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are required to spend 89% of their total cap figure. Therefore, we can expect the Raiders to spend and spend big. They can’t just spend on anyone. It has to make sense.

The crown jewel of this defensive free agent class and the name Raider fans and even players are already clamoring for is Ndamukong Suh. Suh is in his prime and widely considered one of the best defensive linemen in the game. It doesn’t hurt that his reputation is a little tarnished by a few dirty plays and some fines. Suh would cost a pretty penny and the Raiders will probably overbid, but you could do a lot worse than the biggest, nastiest interior lineman in the league. There was a time when the Raiders signed aging and declining Warren Sapp. If they could lure Suh to Oakland, you can bet Lyle Alzado will be somewhere looking down and smiling.

Oakland Raider Lyle Alzado.

Oakland Raider Lyle Alzado.

A nice consolation prize, if the Raiders are unable to land Suh, is Broncos defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton. Knighton is a tremendous young defensive lineman in his own right and new Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio was Knighton’s defensive coordinator in Denver. In fact, Pot Roast is on record saying he loves Del Rio and wants to play anywhere he is coaching. Time will tell.

You can expect Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas to get paid handsomely by the Cowboys and Broncos respectively. The offense starved Raiders probably have no shot at either. But that doesn’t rule them out for young playmakers like Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb or Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. Both players are in their prime and should be fairly cost friendly to a team with as much to spend as the Raiders. By all accounts, the team finally hit big with second round QB Derek Carr and cannot afford to waste any time surrounding him with viable playmakers. The Raiders return to respectability is directly tied to his success and the players that help him to succeed.

With the Raiders picking 4th overall this year, you’d expect them to land a player who can help immediately. Two names most linked to the team are USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Of course after the Combine, other names will surface, but these two players have the production, pedigree and game tape that warrant a high selection. Williams would be a tremendous add with either Suh or Knighton and last year’s home run pick Khalil Mack, and Cooper would team nicely with Cobb, Thomas or both.

2014 Raider 1st round selection, Khalil Mack.

2014 Raider 1st round selection, Khalil Mack.

For as lean as the times have been in Oakland, you can almost get a whiff of revival. Derek Carr and Khalil Mack seem to have all the makings. The team has drafted better than most would think coming off of a 3-13 season. They have seemingly hit on a few other really good players on both sides of the ball. If they can have another solid draft, following a year which saw all picks make the team and contribute, and spend money on imposing and playmaking talent in this offseason, it may not be too long before the Raiders might begins making things right again. Their fan base has been waiting quite awhile.

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