Go ahead and concede the NFC North to the Chicago Bears if you wish.
Getting Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor on the first day of free agency is a nice haul. (They’ve also agreed to terms with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna).
What does this have to do with the Raiders?
Nothing, really, except it’s a bigger version of what Oakland did in 2005, when it spent big to sign defensive end Derrick Burgess and running back Lamont Jordan.
Burgess was nowhere near Peppers’ pedigree, although the Bears would probably be happy with the 16 sacks the defensive end put up in Oakland his first year.
And Taylor is a more proven back than Jordan, considerably older at 30 but having split time with Adrian Peterson for less wear and tear in recent years.
His first year in Oakland, Jordan rushed for 1,025 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 70 passes for 563 yards and two more scores in 14 games before missing the last two games with a knee injury.
Again, Chicago could live with that kind of production from Taylor.
What did Burgess and Jordan bring the Raiders in 2005? They went from 5-11 to 4-12.
The thing about free agency is this _ if you haven’t built a solid foundation, get good quarterback play and have strong systems of football, a flashy pass rusher and a 1,000-yard runner won’t do a lot to change things.
The Bears’ season will be all about what Mike Martz can do with quarterback Jay Cutler.
Jumping to more free agent conclusions:
— Figured the Raiders were probably safe in giving Bruce Gradkowski a second-round tender. Gradkowski was dumped by both St. Louis and Cleveland before ended up in Oakland _ three of the worst teams over the past few years in the NFL (what, the Lions weren’t interested?).
Now I’m not sure sure.
If A.J. Feeley can get a two-year, $6 million contract from St. Louis, then who’s to say Gradkowski can’t come back with an offer sheet?
Then do the Raiders match it or take the pick?
— Are the Raiders a silent bidder for the services of Anquan Boldin by trade?
Doubtful. He’ll want a new contract with huge money, and he’s a run-after-catch receiver and not the downfield type preferred by you-know-who.
I’d like to see the Raiders go after a veteran like Derrick Mason or Chris Chambers, but suspect they’re expecting a full season out of Chaz Schilens, another step up the ladder from Louis Murphy and dramatic improvement from Darrius Heyward-Bey instead.
— There’s something to be said for JaMarcus Russell’s quiet offseason (especially if he’s been getting in shape) other than a couple of jewelry-laden courtside appearances. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger.
— Grady Jackson’s available again, but he’s 37 and just got cut by the Detroit Lions. In Jackson’s favor is the Raiders line coach, Mike Waufle, was the line coach for Jackson’s last two years as a Raiders in 2000 and 2001.
— Remember thinking when Gibril Wilson got big money from the Miami Dolphins that someone hadn’t watched the film too closely. After pocketing $24 million in bonus money from the Raiders and Dolphins, he’s free to find another victim.
In the interest of disclosure, I thought Wilson was a good acquisition when the Raiders signed him as an unrestricted free agency.
Another reason why I tend to be skeptical when it comes to signing free agents.
The bottom line?
For all the talk about budgets and business, teams tend to keep players they want to keep, and free agents are on the market for a reason.