Today, we round off the AFC West as we look at the Oakland Raiders' previous season and preview their offseason needs. Early in the season, the Raiders looked, well, like they could be better than bad. They were inconsistent, of course, and riding the unsustainable play of QB Terrelle Pryor. After Pryor was injured, the Raiders got flashes from Matt McGloin, but I would argue that the QB position is still a huge need for the Raiders as they head into the offseason. The early signs of life were quickly stomped out, and the Raiders limped to a 4-12 record and the 5th pick in the draft.
Even among all of these problems, the Raiders have elected to keep the majority of their coaching staff and front office intact - a wise move, I think. The Raiders' woes have been a-plenty this last decade, largely due to some very questionable operating decisions. But, instability has been another problem. It's only been a few years, we ought to remember, since Tom Cable and Hue Jackson led the Raiders to 8-8 seasons. I think it's smart to give Dennis Allen more time.
It's also worth mentioning in advance that there will likely be an additional media narrative surrounding the issue of fan violence. In the wake of the recent rulings in the Bryan Stow case, I would hope that multiple factors (like vigilant security and friendly attitudes toward rivalry) would come together to foster a safe environment; but, both the Raiders and the 49ers are no strangers to cross-bay violence. I expect this to be a major talking point during the week leading up to the game.
Rashad Jennings, RB; Darren McFadden, RB; Jacoby Ford, WR; Jeron Mastrud, TE; Khalif Barnes, OL; Tony Pashos, OL; Jared Veldheer, OL; Andre Gurode, OL; Lamarr Houston, DT; Jason Hunter, DE; Daniel Muir, DT; Pat Sims, DT; Vance Walker, DT; Phillip Adams, CB; Mike Jenkins, CB; Tracy Porter, CB; Charles Woodson, CB; Usama Young, S.
In my previous posts, I have tried to split up a discussion of team needs in my "Free Agency" and "Draft" sections depending upon where it seemed most likely that the team could get a major player of need. But, because the Raiders have oodles and oodles of cap space ($64,417,920) they could address any position of need through free agency alone.
In addition to QB, you'll note a string of CBs leaving the team. While D.J. Hayden might be asked to be a starter in 2014, he had an up and down rookie season (Pro Football Focus gave him a -7.7 pass coverage grade through the first 9 games), so I suspect that the Raiders will look to bring in some competition.
The Raiders were also plagued by offensive line woes last season. With Jared Veldheer missing time due to injury (who is also a free agent) and with Lucas Nix playing quite poorly (PFF graded him out to an abysmal -44.3 season grade based primarily on his -24.5 pass blocking score and -20.9 run blocking grade), the Raiders faced some problems upfront.
Lamarr Houston, the extraordinary DE, is also a free agent and probably a franchise tag candidate.
The Raiders will likely choose between their two free agents RBs: Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings.
1. First round: own - No. 5
2. Second round: own - No. 2 (No. 36 overall)
3. Third round: own - No. 3 (No. 67 overall)
4. Fourth round: own - No. 7 (Currently No. 103 overall)
5. Sixth round: own - No. 6 (Currently No. 165 overall
6. Seventh round: own - No. 4 (Currently No. 196 overall)
7. Seventh round: Cardinals (Carson Palmer trade) - No. 20 (Currently No. 212 overall)
The Raiders traded away their fifth round pick for Matt Flynn.