The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.
The Oakland Raiders had a rough season last year, but I actually think there are some nice pieces in place upon which the team can start building. One wise decision that Raiders management made this year—the sort of decesion that has been less and less common for Oakland in recent years—was to give the coaching staff another year to work on things. Continuity has been and issue for the team; remember the depatures of Tom Cable and Hugh Jackson, even after both men led the team to 8-8 seasons? Well, Dennis Allen seems to be a good coach for the team, and the Raiders have to hope that he will continue to push this team in the right direction.
The offseason, though, started a bit poorly for the Raiders. First, though it appeared that they wanted to retain OT Jared Veldheer, some serious money drama occurred, which resulted in him leaving the team for Arizona. Secondly, to replace Veldheer, the Raiders attempted to sign Rodger Saffold, but bungled the process. Eventually, as we shall see below, the Raiders ended up signing Donald Penn, who I think is a good player for them. But, the whole mess was just an unfortunate affair.
Additions: OT Austin Howard, DE Justin Tuck, LB LaMarr Woodley, CB Tarell Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, DE Antonio Smith, WR James Jones, OT Donald Penn, G Kevin Boothe, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, DE C.J. Wilson, QB Matt Schaub.
Losses: DE Lamarr Houston, OT Jared Veldheer, CB Tracy Porter, RB Rashad Jennings, CB Phillip Adams, WR Jacoby Ford, CB Mike Jenkins, DT Vance Walker.
Because the Raiders had so much money coming into this season, they were major players in free agency. Does this make them an older team? Absolutely. But, I think after a couple of really down season, the Raiders needed to inject a little oomph into the East Bay. In addition, it affords them the opportunity to draft well (hopefully) and develop players in an environment that is full of veterans, rather than in an environment that forces all of them to play before each one is ready.
The big names on that list, for me at least, are of course Brown and Rogers. I was sad to see both players go, even if I recognized the necessity of their departures. And while I don't think either player will instantly "make" that defense, I do think that they can be effective pieces in what appears to be a growing defense.
The big question for the Raiders going forward is at the QB position. While I don't think any of the moves they made this offseason constitutes as an answer to that question, I think they have brought in enough talent to effectively lend themselves time to figure out the position. I'll highlight Schaub here, since this is the free agency section, but I think he is more than likely a stop-gap until the Raiders feel like they have "the guy" they want to be under Center.