After years of falling short to sign top players, the Oakland Raiders now appear to be an attractive destination for free agents. The Raiders are reportedly set to sign linebacker Bruce Irvin when the new league year begins on Wednesday afternoon, and a few other teams will follow his lead.
Irvin was a key member of the Seattle Seahawks defense that allowed the fewest amount of points in the league for four consecutive seasons. Joining Irvin will be offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, who has played for the Baltimore Ravens since they drafted him in 2012.
Source: The #Raiders will sign LB Bruce Irvin when the league year starts tomorrow. Out of nowhere.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2016
The Kelechi Osemele deal — 5 years, $60M max — is wild. Highest paid guard in NFL history. Crazy $$. #Raiders beef up that line.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2016
After winning just 11 total games from 2012-2014 and failing to make the playoffs since 2002, the Raiders appear to be headed in the right direction. Oakland went 7-9 in 2015, and they promising talent on offense with young stars like quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Oakland will be an even more desirable location after signing Irvin and Osemele. Irvin recorded 5.5 sacks and 38 tackles for the Seahawks last season, playing for the best defense in the NFC. Osemele is just 26 years old, and he has effectively played both guard and tackle.
Raiders tackle Donald Penn is without a contract, and the signing of Osemele indicated that Oakland might be moving on from the 32-year-old. But Penn, who was a Pro Bowler in 2010, wants to return to Oakland, and the Raiders might decide to give him a new deal.
"I grew up a Raider fan. I'm from L.A. I grew up when they were the L.A. Raiders, I grew up when they were the Oakland Raiders," Penn said on the NFL Network. "It was like a dream come true. I would love to retire a Raider. But this is the tough part of the side that I hate -- it's the business side. All I can do is sit back and let my agent take care of everything. I made it clear that I want to be a Raider. I think they made it clear. Now, I just sit back and wait on that phone call."
Penn also stated that the he is "showing interest from other teams.”
While the Raiders have improved their pass rush and their offensive line, they still need to address their biggest weakness. Oakland’s secondary was their Achilles’ heel last season, and the unit lost its best player with the retirement of Charles Woodson. Former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins was reportedly on the team’s list, but it appears he’s headed to the New York Giants.
The Raiders have reportedly spoken with Sean Smith, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Kansas City decided to use their franchise tag on safety Eric Berry, which opened the door for Smith to become a free agent.
Oakland could also decide to address their secondary with their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.