The Raiders were reported to be very interested in signing Green Bay wide receiver Randall Cobb. Then Cobb re-signed with Green Bay.
Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh also was on the team’s most-wanted list, but he’s apparently headed to Miami.
Patriots’ safety Devin McCourty was in the Raiders’ sights, too, but then he decided to sign a deal to stay in New England.
So, even before the free-agent signing period officially opened Tuesday afternoon, the Raiders appeared as if they had already struck out.
As Kenneth Arthur of the website Sports on Earth wrote, “Are the Oakland Raiders even trying?”
But this year’s free-agent pool is deep, and there are still plenty of big fish remaining for Oakland to catch, even if they aren’t whoppers like Suh and Cobb.
On Monday, it was reported that Oakland made its first big move by signing former Chiefs center Rodney Hudson, making him the highest-paid center in the league. He was graded by Pro Football Focus as the third-best player at his position in 2014, and could be the first move to making the offensive line a much better unit in 2015.
“Hudson is a perfect center for that (faster-paced) attack,” wrote ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson, who noted that new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave wants to install a quicker, no-huddle offense.
In addition, Arthur of Sports on Earth outlined five free-agent signings the Raiders could make that would upgrade their roster significantly and fit with the direction the team is going – especially in conjunction with the draft, in which Oakland has the fourth overall pick (and likely will land a top-flight receiver with that No. 1 pick).
Those five players are:
Defensive lineman Greg Hardy of Carolina; offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga of Green Bay; defensive tackle Terrance Knighton of the Broncos; cornerback Antonio Cromartie of Arizona; and tight end Jordan Cameron of Cleveland.
Adding Hardy, an elite pass rusher who had 26 sacks over the 2012-13 seasons (but is still on the exempt list because of off-the-field issues), and Knighton, a run-stuffer who can also tie up blockers and also put pressure on the quarterback up the middle, would provide a strong base for the defensive front.
Bulaga, just 26, could plug into the right tackle slot and – with Hudson – provide a huge upgrade to the running game.
Cromartie would give the Raiders a No. 1 corner and a proven playmaker , says Arthur, while easing the load on young defensive backs DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie.
And Cameron would give quarterback Derek Carr a nice pair of tight ends (with holdover Mychal Rivera).
“Signing these five players would definitely improve the team and could possibly get them over .500 for the first time since 2002,” wrote Arthur.
But, the Raiders aren’t the only ones who’ll be going after this Fab Five. Free agency, especially in its first couple of days, can be a frenzy.
Yet, if the Raiders can land one or two of these five Tuesday or Wednesday, it might signal a nice recovery after watching Suh, Cobb and McCourty get away this past weekend.