Kelechi Osemele went into this free agency period as perhaps the No. 1 player among all offensive linemen available. Now it appears the Raiders have landed him.
Reports by Rand Getlin of the NFL Network Tuesday morning indicate Osemele, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, and the Raiders “have an agreement in principle” that will be announced Wednesday on the first official day signings can be announced.
“Osemele’s market was incredibly hot,” Getlin tweeted Tuesday. “When the deal is announced, it’ll blow the top off of the OG (offensive guard) market. Huge get for the #Raiders.”
It certainly is.
The Raiders were hoping to bolster their offensive line this offseason, and Osemele, who has started at right tackle, left guard and left tackle for Baltimore, will immediately do that. If left tackle Donald Penn is re-signed, the Raiders would be set at left tackle with Penn, left guard with Gabe Jackson and center with Rodney Hudson. Osemele could play right guard, with either Austin Howard or Menelik Watson at right tackle.
Or, if the Raiders decide not to bring back Penn, Osemele could be the fit at left tackle.
Either way, the Raiders have signed a versatile and physical player and invested in a blocker who should pay big dividends.
The 6-foot-5, 333-pounder, a second-round pick of the Ravens in 2012 out of Iowa State, was on Pro Football Focus’ All-NFL second team in 2014. Pro Football Focus ranked Osemele as the third-best potential free agent in this year’s class. But with the Bears deciding to keep receiver Alshon Jeffery and the Bills keeping tackle Cordy Glenn, Osemele was the top-ranked player actually available.
Pro Football Focus noted that Osemele “has already proved to be one of the best run blockers in the entire league, with his ability to win at the point of attack setting him apart from other NFL guards.”
Terms of the deal with Osemele have yet to be revealed, but the Raiders went into free agency with nearly $70 million in cap space, giving them plenty of freedom and flexibility to compete for the best free agents this year.
So far, it looks as if the Raiders are off to a good start.