The Raiders have spent a lot of money this offseason. General manager Reggie McKenzie entered free agency with more than $60 million in his pocket and has brought in a large crew of newcomers.
Yet having dipped into that pocket repeatedly, McKenzie still has plenty left.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, cited by ESPN.com Raiders beat writer Paul Gutierrez recently, the Raiders still have more than $12.5 million in salary-cap space.
Even with the Raiders expected to use about $6.7 million on draft picks, that still leaves more than $5 million for other free-agent acquisitions, says Guiterrez.
That money could lead to signing another “two or even three” veteran free agents this offseason to strengthen the roster, he wrote.
“Of course, the Raiders can always trade down and pick up more draft picks, as well as clear more cap space by cutting players or restructuring deals.” Gutierrez wrote. “It’s all a fluid situation.”
The Raiders of course will bring in a new wave of talent in the three-day draft that begins May 8, but are also in a position to supplement the roster with a couple of veterans at positions of need with the money they still have – perhaps at tight end or the secondary or a couple of proven special-teams players.
Yet the key aspect of all the Raiders’ spending is they haven’t handcuffed themselves to long-term deals. If a lot of these free-agent veterans work out, great. If they don’t, the Raiders can part company with them and have salary-cap space for 2015, 2016 and beyond.
Joel Corry of CBS Sports’ Eye on Football says the Raiders’ spending has created a definite upgrade of the roster, which could result in the team finally playing better in 2014 – he suggests the Raiders may be good enough to get to 8-8, a big improvement from consecutive 4-12 seasons.
“Seven or eight wins seems possible provided a majority of older acquisitions don’t hit the wall simultaneously and depending on how many immediate contributors are found in the draft,” he wrote. “It remains to be seen whether almost doubling Oakland’s 2013 win total will be enough to get McKenzie off the hot seat.”
There is no doubt, however, that McKenzie has been smart with the Raiders’ available money. If he’s as good evaluating talent remains the question.