Right now, the Oakland Raiders are a bit like a small-market baseball team, doing the best they can with limited resources.
Though the team may have missed the playoffs again last season, blowing a 7-4 start to finish 8-8, the team had some big-name players on its roster, signed to hefty contracts.
With a new general manager and severe salary-cap limitations caused by those contracts, however, the Raiders have been in spin mode, ejecting both starting cornerbacks, allowing standout running back Michael Bush to leave in free agency, cutting outstanding pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley and releasing starting tight end Kevin Boss and guard Cooper Carlisle.
Meanwhile, they’ve also been busy getting players to renegotiate their deals to save the team’s cap space.
So where are the Raiders now?
After jumping into the free-agent pool Friday by signing cornerback Ron Bartell and guard Mike Brisiel, the team is reportedly now set to bring in veteran Saints corner Tracy Porter for a visit. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur reported Porter already has visited the Bengals, but now appears to be ready to either sign with Oakland or return to the Saints.
Also, former 49ers starting corner Shawntae Spencer is in the mix, reports the Bay Area News Group’s Steve Corkran. Spencer, 30, lost his starting job with the 49ers last season, but started 32 straight games in 2009 and 2010, Corkran reports – and played for new Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
With both 2011 Raiders starters released – Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt – Bartell and either Porter or Spencer would give the team a pair of veterans at the position going into 2012.
Bartell, who spent the past seven seasons with the Rams, has eight career interceptions in 89 career games.
If they can fill the holes at corner, they’ll still have a gaping hole at tight end and the team’s pass rush – with Wimbley gone – is severely impacted.
Tafur reports former Texans tight end Joel Dressen plans to visit the Raiders soon.
And at linebacker, some free agents still available include former 49er Manny Lawson and former Raven Jameel McClain, writes Tafur.
None of the prospective new Raiders is a big-name player. But then, with their piggy bank smaller and their late-entrance into the free-agent market, the Raiders have their hands tied.
Don’t expect any blockbuster signings. New GM Reggie McKenzie is just doing the best with what he’s got.