5 Free Agents the Oakland Raiders Must Target
The Oakland Raiders' upcoming offseason has the potential to be the most exciting in recent memory, as they have a significant amount of salary cap space they will undoubtedly look to utilize as they begin the rebuilding process.
Free agency is where teams generally look to address their needs, so we can expect the Raiders to be in the running for a number of players at quarterback, receiver and on the defensive line to name a few.
Of course, the key will be spending their influx in salary cap space wisely, as overspending on the wrong players is what got the team in its financial mess in the first place.
In hopes of creating a quick turnaround and becoming a playoff contender as soon as next season, here are five players the Raiders must target in free agency this offseason.
QB Michael Vick
If last year's draft was any indication, where the Raiders took CB D.J. Hayden in the first round over one of the top pass-rushers, general manager Reggie McKenzie will continue to lean toward selecting the top player on his board rather than reaching for a bigger need.
Considering which, if Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is off the board when the Raiders pick at fifth overall, it would hardly be surprising for them to opt against taking one of the other passers available and instead targeting one of this year's elite defensive prospects.
To afford themselves this increased flexibility with what will be an incredibly important first-round selection, expect the Raiders to explore their options at quarterback in free agency, and the best of the bunch will be Michael Vick.
No, Vick has not been what you would call a franchise quarterback of late, but he is a proven player in this league, and is worth the risk if he can stay healthy.
Signing Vick would allow the Raiders the time to find a quarterback of the future that they truly see as a fit for the team, rather than reaching for one and making a mistake they can't remotely afford.
WR Jeremy Maclin
Despite some young talent at the position, the Raiders will need to address the wide receiver group this offseason.
It would be tough to imagine the team selecting a receiver at fifth overall, so a free-agent acquisition would make the most sense.
Although there may not be a consensus No. 1 target that will be available on the open market, there are several players that would step in as such for this team, and make a huge difference in the offense overall.
Maclin's addition to the receiving corps would not only provide a big-play target, but one that would open up the rest of the field for young playmakers like Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Mychal Rivera as well.
Coming off a season-ending injury, Maclin could even come at somewhat of a discounted price, but the Raiders will have enough salary cap space to compete for his services regardless.
C Alex Mack
When the Raiders' offensive line started to get healthy down the stretch in 2013, it became clear that the unit was going to be the least of the offense's concerns moving forward.
Of course, that may not be saying much after a difficult season throughout, but a young core of Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski and Menelik Watson is a solid group to build around.
If the Raiders are able to add another interior lineman, or even two, the line could easily become the offense's strength, and that should be exactly the way in which the team commences its rebuild.
Although Wisniewski has performed well at center thus far in his career, that shouldn't prevent the Raiders from pursuing an elite player like Mack. Wisniewski could likely make a seamless transition back to the left guard spot he played in his rookie season, making the line that much stronger overall.
DE Jared Allen
The Raiders badly need to address their defensive front this offseason, and they'll certainly have the money to compete for one, or several, of the many pass-rushers on the open market.
Although there will be some younger players available, the Raiders could not go wrong targeting a proven veteran with consistent production like that of Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
Allen has put up double-digit sacks in eight of his 10 career seasons, including each of the past seven. He would be a solid every-down end in the Raiders' defense, as he plays the run just as well as he does the pass.
Signing a player like Allen would do little to deter the Raiders from going with one of the draft's top pass-rushers with their first selection, as adding two impact defensive ends would be the ideal scenario. Doing so would allow the team to then play Lamarr Houston at the three-technique defensive tackle, making the line that much more impressive overall.
CB Alterraun Verner
Although the Raiders were able to make some key upgrades in the secondary last offseason, the pass defense got exposed more and more as the 2013 season carried on, highlighting an important need at cornerback once again.
In a year where plenty of proven cornerbacks will be free agents, Alterraun Verner may be the one best suited to the Raiders and their defense.
Verner is a versatile playmaker, capable of contributing at several different positions in the secondary, and is still just 25 years old. His game is best suited to the zone-based scheme the Raiders now favor, and he would easily step in as the No. 1 cornerback from Day 1.
Pairing him in the starting lineup with D.J. Hayden would give the team an impressive young cornerback tandem moving forward, and re-signing Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter would still remain a priority to build depth.