The Oakland Raiders are coming off their best season in a long time. Despite their early exit from the playoffs – largely due to Derek Carr’s crushing injury – the Raiders have plenty of reason to be looking up.
With more than $47 million in projected cap space, Oakland has plenty of money to spend to improve upon its remarkable season. The secondary is a question mark, as is the interior of the defensive line, but that’s what free agency and the draft are for.
Here are five players they should target in free agency, which begins March 9.
RT Riley Reiff (Lions)
The Raiders had one of the best offensive lines in football last year. There’s no doubting that. However, there was one glaring weakness: right tackle. Menelik Watson is a free agent and is unlikely to return after playing just 27 games in four years. Austin Howard filled in for him, but he’s not a reliable starter, either, constantly needing help on the right side. Reiff moved to right tackle last season and played extremely well. He might market himself as a left tackle to drive up his price, but he’d be a solid starter for the Raiders and one that wouldn’t break the bank like Ricky Wagner.
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LB Zach Brown (Bills)
The Raiders are in need of an aggressive linebacker to take over in the middle of the defense. Brown would fit the bill after blowing up for the Bills this past season. He was second in the NFL with 149 tackles, while also recording four sacks and two forced fumbles. He’s not a great cover linebacker, but for a team that struggled against the run, he’s exactly what the Raiders need. Brown’s still relatively young, too, at just 27 years old.
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TE Martellus Bennett (Patriots)
The Raiders’ offense is stacked with talent. From Amari Cooper to Michael Crabtree to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, they have good depth at several skill positions. However, tight end is thin on playmakers. Bennett would change that from Day 1. He would come in and be an immediate upgrade over Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera, the latter of whom is a free agent. Bennett can block and make big plays down the field, which would open up opportunities for Cooper and Crabtree.
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CB Captain Munnerlyn (Vikings)
The Raiders spent a lot of money on the secondary last year, signing Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson and drafting Karl Joseph in the first round. What they still need, though, is a solid starting cornerback to play the slot. Munnerlyn is a savvy veteran who’s played very well in recent years, and would bring good versatility to the defense. He won’t cost nearly as much as the top available corners, which bodes well for the Raiders after they just spent a good amount of money on the position last offseason.
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DE Calais Campbell (Cardinals)
The Raiders’ defense was gashed on several occasions in 2016, consistently on the ground. They need a big run-stopping defensive lineman, which is exactly what Campbell is. He can play defensive end and kick inside to defensive tackle on passing downs, which would give the Raiders good flexibility up front. Not only can he stuff the run up the middle, but he can generate pressure from the inside, too – a luxury for interior linemen.