Right now, there are a number of interesting rumors floating around about how the Oakland Raiders could approach the upcoming 2017 NFL free agency period.
After an outstanding 2016 campaign, the Oakland Raiders head into the 2017 offseason with a lot to gain and plenty of ground to cover. The rumors swirling about the team right now paint the picture of a franchise set to have a busy offseason.
While some of the discussion touches on off-the-field issues, the Raiders appear to be popping up in conversations all over the league. Some folks see them as serious players with only a few holes in need of filling. Others see them as focused on re-signing internal talent with the 2017 NFL Draft acting as the primary opportunity for improvement.
Either way, the chatter is loud. The Raiders appear primed to make some big moves, especially when 2017 NFL free agency gets under way on March 9. With about $46 million in cap space to work with (via Spotrac.com), Oakland definitely has the spending power to make a serious impact in the next month or so.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the biggest Raiders rumors right now with only a week to go before 2017 NFL free agency begins. Keep in mind that these are rumors, which means there may or may not be much merit to these claims.
I was under the impression the Raiders still supported Murray as their featured back. It appears I was dead wrong. The latest out of Oakland would indicate that the team is ready to move on from their top back in 2017.
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the Raiders are ready to let Murray test the open market. They didn’t close the door on a potential return, but it appears they’re preparing for his departure unless the market is unwelcoming when March 9 arrives.
While I don’t necessarily agree with the move, it makes sense when you think about it. Murray has the potential to be a star with his impressive mix of speed, power and explosiveness. However, he’s struggled with injuries throughout his NFL career and is coming off a 2016 campaign during which he failed to fend off two rookies for touches.
When healthy and on his game, Murray is a touchdown waiting to happen. However, both of those things occurring at the same time doesn’t appear to happen often. Still, I’d guess he’ll receive some significant interest when free agency begins—enough to ensure his departure from Oakland.
Would this really be that surprising? The former first-round pick has been little more than a bust through four seasons, but there are some folks out there hoping D.J. Hayden gives it one more go-around with the Raiders.
I don’t see that happening, though. Neither does ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, who claimed “it’s hard to see Hayden returning.” Gutierrez also makes a great point that a change of scenery and no first-round status lingering over his head could help him get his career back on track.
Hayden struggled more often than not when he was on the field–that’s just a fact. He was generally a liability in coverage for the Oakland defense, failing to live up to the hype as a budding star cornerback the Raiders nearly spent the No. 3 overall pick on. Injuries eventually brought Hayden’s breakout 2016 season to a premature end—a theme for his career.
Despite Oakland’s lack of cornerback depth, they need to go in a different direction in 2017. Hayden looked like a boom-or-bust prospect when he was first drafted, and he’s essentially secured his bust status up to this point. Moving teams this offseason, though, could be enough to unlock some of his hidden potential.
Part of the reason why the Raiders are willing to let Murray walk? They need to spend money elsewhere, as a couple of rising stars are due for big paydays in the very near future.
In this instance, I’m talking about Khalil Mack and Derek Carr. Two of the Raiders’ elite players are heading into contract years, and are worth well more than they’re currently being paid. Mack won the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year award and Carr was an MVP candidate before a late-season injury ended his campaign.
Either way, both are in line to get paid very soon. That falls in line with what Anderson added a few days back. It also just makes too much sense considering the ascension both of these players have enjoyed over the last two days. Plus, the Raiders would probably prefer striking long-term deals instead of being forced to use the franchise tag next year.
Oakland has plenty of money to spend this offseason. However, if the Raiders truly are focused on extending Mack and Carr, they could choose to play it safe during free agency. Fans won’t necessarily like that approach, but they’ll love having Mack and Carr around for the foreseeable future.
2. Staying in Oakland Still an Option for Raiders?
This may not be directly related to free agency, but the franchise’s future location could play a big part in luring big-name free agents this offseason. That’s why it’s important to provide you with the latest on the Raiders’ stadium situation.
Not long ago, it seemed like Las Vegas was a sure thing. However, after some investment opportunities fell through for owner Mark Davis, ditching Oakland suddenly became a pipe dream of sorts. While the Raiders brass seems convinced they can still find investors in Sin City, one group is making a strong push to keep the team in the Bay Area.
Fronted by former Raiders safety Ronnie Lott, the Fortress Investment Group recently submitted a plan to help build a new stadium in Oakland (via Pro32’s Josh Dubow). According to the report, the NFL rejected a plan that was previously submitted by Fortress. Although the new plan is allegedly “fundamentally” the same, Dubow claims it does answer some lingering questions.
There was a grim outlook for Oakland natives not long ago. However, recent developments make it seem as though the Raiders could be staying after all. If the legendary Lott has anything to say about it, the Silver and Black won’t be picking up and moving to Las Vegas.
When the Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up Adrian Peterson’s option for 2017, folks immediately began speculating on his next NFL team. While most minds jumped to the Dallas Cowboys, there were a select few who mentioned the Raiders as a possible landing spot.
It makes sense for a number of reasons. First, the aforementioned uncertainty surrounding Murray’s future is real. He would leave the Raiders without a true starter at running back if he does end up walking. Peterson would obviously be able to fill that gap, assuming they’re willing to gamble on a 32-year-old back who’s well past his prime.
There are some concerns about his durability and price tag. However, if the Raiders can woo him with their shiny new status as contenders and overwhelming list of offensive weapons, signing Peterson isn’t out of the question. I’m sure he’d love to run behind an offensive line that boasts the talents of three Pro Bowlers.