By Steve Corkran
Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 5:56 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are of the belief that they have enough talent on their roster as it stands to compete for a Super Bowl title this season.
Naturally, that remains to be seen. Also, what else are they going to say? Time will tell. What’s certain is that the Raiders roster for the 2012 season will be comprised mostly of players currently under contract.
The Raiders have five selections in the upcoming NFL draft, and they still figure to add a handful more players through veteran free agency, as well as undrafted free agents.
So, things can change in a hurry. In the interim, let’s take a look at where the Raiders stand after more the first two weeks of free agency and a slew of offseason moves that included the purging of 2011 opening-game starters Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Samson Satele, Kamerion Wimbley, Jason Campbell, Chaz Schilens and Quentin Groves through outright release or free agency.
This is what awaits Allen next week, when he and his coaching staff are permitted to work with their players for the first time this season.
Who’s here: Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Rhett Bomar
Who’s gone: Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller
What’s needed: Pryor hasn’t taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game and spent most of his rookie season adjusting to the NFL. Romar has yet to play in a real game, either. Therefore, it’s likely that the Raiders will address the need for a backup to Palmer by signing a veteran free agent before training camp.
Who’s here: Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones, Lonyae Miller, Rashawn Jackson
Who’s gone: Michael Bush, Rock Cartwright
What’s needed: The Raiders are set at running back if Allen and McKenzie feel as if Jones is ready for a heightened role. McFadden is expected to be the workhorse once again after missing most of the final 10 games with a sprained foot. Jones played only sparingly as a rookie, yet he showed during training camp and exhibition games that he can be effective as a complementary back.
Who’s here: Marcel Reece, Manase Tonga
Who’s gone: No one
What’s needed: Nothing
Who’s here: Brandon Myers, David Ausberry, Richard Gordon
Who’s gone: Kevin Boss
What’s needed: McKenzie jettisoned Boss one season into a four-year contract. That leaves him without a proven player as his starter. It’s conceivable that Myers or Ausberry can blossom into the role this season. Still, it says here that McKenzie will keep searching for a veteran to hold down the spot filled by Boss last season until he is comfortable with one of his younger players.
Who’s here: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, Eddie McGee
Who’s gone: Chaz Schilens, T.J. Houshmandzadeh
What’s needed: Heyward-Bey, Moore and Ford played well, at times, last season, especially when they weren’t hurt. However, none has emerged as a No. 1-type receiver yet. The hope is, that one or more of them will do this season. That leaves the Raiders in the market for depth in light of the departure of Schilens to the Jets and Houshmandzadeh not being re-signed.
Who’s here: Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Cooper Carlisle, Mike Brisiel, Khalif Barnes, Joseph Barksdale, Bruce Campbell, Zach Hurd, Alex Parsons
Who’s gone: Samson Satele, Stephon Heyer
What’s needed: Losing Satele to the Colts via free agency became a non-issue once the Raiders signed Brisiel to a multi-year contract. Brisiel’s arrival frees up Wisniewski to slide from left guard to center. The Raiders also re-signed Barnes and Carlisle in moves that ensured the Raiders offensive line would return intact, with the exception of Satele. Barksdale and Campbell are expected to compete for starting jobs in training camp. Hurd and Parsons provide added depth and options. This isn’t a unit that needs much help, if any, moving forward.
Who’s here: Matt Shaughnessy, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Lamarr Houston, Desmond Bryant, Jamie Cumbie, Mason Brodine, Travis Ivey, Hall Davis
Who’s gone: Jarvis Moss, John Henderson, Trevor Scott
What’s needed: The Raiders let walk Scott, and they haven’t made any move to bring back Moss. They tendered a one-year contract to Bryant, who is expected to play an even bigger role than he did last season, when he filled in for the injured Shaughnessy for most of the season. All four starters are back. However, the Raiders are without a proven nose tackle, which they will need if they intend to play a 3-4 scheme. Ivey and Bryant are prime candidates if the Raiders can’t find, or afford, a veteran free agent.
Who’s here: Aaron Curry, Rolando McClain, Travis Goethel, Carl Ihenacho,
Who’s gone: Kamerion Wimbley, Darryl Blackstock, Quentin Groves
What’s needed: McKenzie said he still wants to add an outside linebacker. That makes perfect sense, given the departure of Wimbley to the Tennessee Titans via free agency. Curry and McClain finished the season as starters last year. Even so, this is the unit that poses the biggest question mark heading into training camp. Look for one or more linebacker to be added, be it in free agency of the NFL draft.
Who’s here: Chimdi Chekwa, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell, Bryan McCann, Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, Brandon Underwood, Curtis Taylor, Pat Lee, Terrail Lambert
Who’s gone: Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Lito Sheppard, Matt Giordano, Jerome Boyd
What’s needed: The Raiders canned Routt and Johnson. In response, they signed veterans Bartell, Spencer, Underwood and Lee. Before you feel comfortable with any two of the candidates as starters, consider the Raiders finished the 2010 season with Nnamdi Asomugha and Routt as the starters. It’s time for someone to emerge as a front-line player from this group.
Who’s here: Sebastian Janikowski, Shane Lechler, Jon Condo
Who’s gone: Rock Cartwright
What’s needed: Perhaps another core special-teamer who can replace Cartwright. Kassim Osgood would be a great fit here. Beyond that, the Raiders still boast one of the best specialists trio in the league.