The Raiders will be looking to upgrade their roster this offseason, and the names being connected to them are big.
In various reports, the Raiders are being linked to Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin and Packers receiver Randall Cobb.
Of course, other teams, too, are said to be interested in upgrading, so it will be a competitive market. But one thing Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie has in his favor is a good salary-cap situation.
Though McKenzie and team owner Mark Davis want to build the foundation of their team through the draft, some high-impact free agents could hasten the growth process. And Oakland – more than most teams – is positioned to spend more in free agency because of the work McKenzie has done in recent seasons to clear salary-cap space.
The Raiders are expected to have about $50 million in roster money available, second only to the Jaguars’ $57 million. Another estimate gives them about $54 million. They could also pick up more money by releasing some of the veterans under contract.
While Oakland will have to decide which veterans it wants to keep – is center Stefen Wisniewski a foundation-type player? – many are wondering which big-name free agents from other teams the Raiders might pursue.
The biggest of those names, so far, has been Suh. Recently, Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck said Suh is “Raiderish.”
“That’s one of the reason why I know Raider Nation would applaud that move, beyond the fact that he’s an awesome football player,” Tuck told the Detroit Free Press. “He kind of fits the mold of … the toughness and the ferocious player that built the Oakland Raiders.”
Suh, inserted in the middle of the defensive line, certainly would instantly make the Raiders defense considerably better, especially when surrounded by young players such as Khalil Mack, Sio Moore and Justin “Jelly” Ellis.
But, he would be expensive. It’s possible it would cost a team in the neighborhood of $100 million over a six-year deal to sign him.
Fortunately for the Raiders, they are in a good financial position to make that move if they want. The question is, will they make a pitch for Suh?
If the Lions let him enter the open market, it will be a fascinating scenario.