News Mailbag: A Look Ahead To Free Agency

Posted Mar 13, 2018

Free agency officially gets underway Wednesday afternoon. Time for another edition of the Mailbag.

Happy NFL Year!

… Almost.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1:00 p.m. PT, the NFL calendar will officially turn to 2018, which means that clubs can officially sign players to new deals. Even though teams can’t technically finalize player contracts until tomorrow, things are moving and shaking all across the NFL landscape, so now seemed as good a time as ever to answer your questions about the Silver and Black.

Here we go with the pre-free agency edition of the Mailbag.

EP: Let me channel my inner Aaron Rodgers for a second, and very graciously remind you to R-E-L-A-X.

First of all, I get your sentiment, I really do. If you take a look around the league – the past few days in particular – you see teams spending big money on players, but as a wise man once told me, you build through the draft and then supplement though free agency.

You’re not building the core of your roster in free agency – it’s just not how the NFL works – and if you are indeed doing that, you’re probably going about it all wrong.

Anyways, unless you’re a team that desperately needs a quarterback, or you figure you’re one, very specific piece away from winning a Super Bowl, you probably shouldn’t hedge all your bets on hitting big in free agency.

Now, do I expect General Manager Reggie McKenzie to add some quality pieces to the Raiders roster once free agency gets underway? Certainly, but let’s not rush the man.

Let Reggie work.

Yeah, I think your list looks pretty good to me, Preston.

If you look at the Raiders roster right now – and I really do think there’s more talent there than last season’s record dictates – you see a definite need for some help on the defensive side of the football.

Heck, Head Coach Jon Gruden has said as much multiple times during the offseason.

With NaVorro Bowman headed towards free agency, the team’s situation at middle linebacker is once again murky, and now without David Amerson, Sean Smith, and TJ Carrie set to hit the open market, finding another cornerback will be at a premium as well.

A little depth on both the offensive and defensive line never hurt anyone either, so keep an eye on the big fellas as well.

That being said, if a player becomes available that McKenzie really likes, regardless of position, I think the Raiders will at least have a conversation about him.

EP: Competition is the name of the game, my man.

Now, to most members of Raider Nation, Griff Whalen probably wasn’t a household name, or the “big ticket” free agent they were looking for the Raiders to snag, but nevertheless, the former Stanford Cardinal will come in and compete for a roster spot over the next several months.

Whalen’s stats won’t blow you out of the water, but sometimes a new coach, and a fresh start can do wonders for a player.

I don’t think anyone expects Whalen to come in and push Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree for reps, but keep an eye on him going forward, especially as a return man, considering that’s an area that proved problematic at times for the Silver and Black in 2017.

EP: At least a few of the draft experts out there think that the Raiders will do just that.

Matt Miller from Bleacher Report sees the Silver and Black taking Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson at No. 10 overall, while both Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah also see the Raiders helping upgrade the secondary, although they think that player will be either Mike Hughes or Jaire Alexander, respectively.

Look, we can guess, read as many mock drafts, and prognosticate all we went between now and the end of April, but at the end of the day, Reggie McKenzie, Jon Gruden and their respective staffs are going to take the player who’s at the top of their draft board when the time comes.

And like you, I’ll be waiting anxiously to see what name gets read aloud after the pick is officially in.