Have the Raiders made the moves necessary to turn them into perennial Lombardi Trophy contenders?
A week or so ago, I wrote about the potential moves the Raiders could make during the NFL free agency period to help improve their team. While they may have started relatively quiet at the start of the period, the Raiders have made some new additions to their team whilst also being the subject of one of the biggest rumors of the off-season. Here are my grades for their new additions and the speculation they are currently experiencing.
OL Marshall Newhouse, 2 years $3.5 Million
The Raiders’ first move of free agency was signing veteran offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse to a 2-year deal worth $ 3.5 million. With the departure of OL Menelik Watson to the Broncos, the Raiders needed some depth behind an already stacked offensive line. Newhouse is a nice addition that doesn’t break the bank, but it definitely won’t be a move that significantly improves the Raiders.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, 2 Years $4.5 Million
Patterson is a welcome addition to the Raiders, particularly for their return game which has struggled the last few seasons. Patterson has five kickoff returns for touchdowns since being drafted by the Vikings in 2013, including a ninety-five-yard touchdown return against the Raiders in 2015. He’s also a great addition to a deep wide receiver corps, as he caught 52 passes for 453 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. He’s the type of signing that may not make headline news, but will be looked back as one of the best signings of the off-season.
TE Jared Cook, 2 Years $ 12.2 Million
If there’s been a weak position that needed to be addressed on the Raiders’ offense, it was the Tight-End position. Mychal Rivera regressed last season, posting career-lows in receptions and yards and hasn’t blocked a day in his NFL career. Clive Walford hasn’t quite panned out since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL draft, and Lee Smith spent most of last season on injured reserve. Jared Cook gives the Raiders the pass catching and blocking abilities they have lacked at the tight-end position. While he was limited to only 10 games last year, Cook is an improvement over all of the tight-ends currently on the roster. He will be a significant contributor to Derek Carr and the Raiders’ explosive passing game.
QB EJ Manuel
The first quarterback taken in the quarterback bereft 2013 NFL draft, EJ Manuel never found his groove with the Bills. He’s spent the last few seasons backing up Tyrod Taylor, and he knows he isn’t competing for the starting job in Oakland with Derek Carr in the saddle. He’s an improvement over backup quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Connor Cook since he has more starting experience than the two, so won’t look totally like a deer in the headlights should he be thrown into action.
LB Jelani Jenkins
Jenkins is the first defensive signing for the Raiders, an area they would like to improve upon after finishing 26th in total defense last season. Jenkins was limited to only 9 games last season due to injury, but has shown flashes of being a standout linebacker in the NFL. In 2014, he had career highs in tackles and sacks with 110 and 3.5 respectively. If he can produce those kinds of numbers for the Raiders, he’ll help enhance the Raiders’ depth at linebacker and bolster their defense.
Rumor: RB Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement and the Raiders acquire him
There’s been a rumor out for the last week or so that the Raiders are interested in acquiring retired running-back Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks since they still hold the rights to his contract. Lynch retired after a frustrating 2015 season that saw him rush for a career-low 419 yards and 2 touchdowns in 7 games. Lynch, a native of Oakland, would be a great veteran presence in the Raiders locker-room, and he’s stated in the past that he has always wanted to play for the Raiders. It would also add to his legend as “Beastmode”, as he would provide the Raiders with a short-yardage ground game and improve their already potent rushing offense. In theory, this sounds like a slam dunk move for the Raiders and Lynch, a match made in heaven, a homecoming to top all homecomings.
However, I am somewhat weary of the possibility of Lynch to the Raiders. Lynch retired in 2015 due to being frustrated with the Seahawks organization and his overall lack of desire to play. Now while all of this understandably stems from the Seahawks’ 1-yard-line blunder in Super Bowl XLIX, Lynch is still a headache for any organization that signs him. Does he truly miss football as his agent said on San Francisco radio station KNBR? Only Marshawn Lynch knows the answer to that question. Considering there are other running-back options such as Adrian Peterson still out there on the free-agent market and the NFL draft looming, the Raiders may be better served looking for running-back help elsewhere.