The deadline for extending tenders to restricted free agents has passed without a peep from the Raiders.
Today, which was supposed to be the first day of free agency, instead finds teams unable to conduct business with players during a seven-day extension as players and ownership attempt to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement.
Oakland made splashy news in the last couple of weeks by re-signing Richard Seymour and Stanford Routt and putting an exclusive franchise tag on Kamerion Wimbley, but the RFA status has gone unannounced by the Raiders and so far unnoticed by those who have access to the official league wire.
RFA designations at this point are only insurance until a collective bargaining agreement is reached. For instance, the Raiders could designate tender both tight end Zach Miller and running back Michael Bush only to have them become unrestricted free agents if a new CBA grants them that status.
A couple of things worth noting:
— If Miller and Bush were not tendered, it’s not necessarily a cause for alarm. Yes, if an agreement is reached and free agency opens, both could be free to seek their best offer. But keep in mind the Raiders are very good at keeping players they want to keep, and there’s not reason to believe they wouldn’t want Miller and Bush.
Chances are that has been communicated to their agents and it’s conceivable the sides have come to something close to an agreement and are simply waiting for the right time to act on it.
— The best guess at this point from those more familiar with the labor situation than I am is that there will once again be a salary cap, despite former executive director Gene Upshaw saying that once the cap was gone, it was likely gone for good.
According to calculations by beat writer Steve Corkran, the fit for the Raiders could be snug if the cap is set at, say, $125 million. Seymour alone counts nearly $18.4 million in 2011. “Dead money” that must be accounted for in 2011, according to Corkran, is in the neighborhood of $26 million in pro-rated money on Asomugha, Gallery and Huff alone.
The Raiders have in the past had little problem keeping players they wanted with large amounts of dead money through restructuring other contracts.
A list of players who could be restricted free agents (pending Raiders confirmation of unannounced deals) when a CBA is reached:
QB Bruce Gradkowski
RB Michael Bush
TE Zach Miller
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
C Samson Satele
OT Mario Henderson
DE Jarvis Moss
FS Michael Huff
LB Thomas Howard
LB Ricky Brown
S Hiram Eugene
T Khalif Barnes
T-G Daniel Loper
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
QB Kyle Boller
QB Charlie Frye
QB J.T. O’Sullivan
RB Michael Bennett
G Robert Gallery
T Langston Walker
LB Sam Williams
DT John Henderson (ESPN has reported two-year contract, Raiders have not confirmed)