With free agency looming, the Oakland Raiders are looking to make some additions to their roster for the 2016 season. After several players were hit with the franchise tag Tuesday, the team’s realistic options have become more apparent.
Oakland is coming off their best season since 2011, and their future might be brighter than it has been in more than a decade. With more money to spend than almost any other NFL team, the Raiders have a good chance to upgrade their biggest weakness this offseason. After going 7-9 and finishing in third place in the AFC West, Oakland most needs to improve at the cornerback position.
Top free agent CBs left: Janoris Jenkins, P. Amukamara, Sean Smith, Casey Hayward, Adam Jones, Patrick Robinson, Brandon Boykin, Leon Hall.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 1, 2016
The Raiders were average on offense and against the run in 2015, but it was their pass defense that really struggled. Only six teams gave up more passing yards than Oakland, and Charles Woodson, the team’s best defensive back, has retired. D.J. Hayden was picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft; but he hasn’t panned out, leaving Oakland in search of an upgrade.
Josh Norman was headed for free agency until the Carolina Panthers used their franchise tag on the star cornerback. He was a 2015 first-team All-Pro selection, easily making him the best cornerback that played in the final year of his contract last season. The drop off from Norman to the next-best free-agent cornerback is significant, but that doesn’t mean the Raiders don’t have an opportunity to get better.
The Los Angeles Rams used their franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson, choosing him over Janoris Jenkins. The Rams have another week to negotiate with Jenkins before he becomes a free agent, but it looks like the 27-year-old is headed elsewhere. Jenkins recently fired agent Malik Shareef, and he was unhappy with L.A.’s offer, as he reportedly looks to make around $10.5 million per season.
Total disrespect when u held down one side all 4 years and force the ball the other way.. #ThanksButNoThanks
— Mr.Pix6Sh*t/Clamps (@JjenkzLockdown) February 29, 2016
Jenkins might not be as good as he thinks he is, but he would certainly improve Oakland’s secondary. He had three interceptions in 15 games last year, and he was part of a Rams defense that ranked seventh in passing touchdowns allowed.
If the Raiders don’t get Jenkins, Sean Smith might be an even better option for Oakland. Smith is headed for free agency after the Kansas City Chiefs used their franchise tag on safety Eric Berry. In his seventh NFL season, Smith had two interceptions for a Kansas City defense that ranked second in opponents’ passer rating.
Smith is looking to make between $8 million and $10 million per season, according to The Chicago Tribune, and the Chiefs have a lot less money to spend than the Raiders. By signing Smith, Oakland would get the added bonus of stealing a key player away from a division rival.
Leon Hall and Adam Jones, who played for the Cincinnati Bengals last season, are potential options for the Raiders, as well.