The Raiders have 17 unrestricted free agents. Coach Dennis Allen on Monday in his year-end news conference that re-signing some of those players figures to be critical in the Raiders stability for next season and beyond.
Allen mentioned defensive end Lamarr Houston, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and safety Charles Woodson as free agents he is interested in the Raiders bringing back.
Here’s a complete list of the unrestricted free agents:
Offense — wide receiver Jacoby Ford, Veldheer, running back Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings, offensive linemen Khalif Barnes, Tony Pashos and Andre Gurode and tight end Jeron Mastrud.
Defense — defensive ends Houston and Jason Hunter, defensive tackles Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Daniel Muir, safeties Woodson and Usama Young, and cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins.
Houston said after Sunday’s game that it’s “very possible” that he had played his final game with the Raiders and that he wasn’t sure if the Raiders wanted him back.
Here’s his words verbatim.
“I believe that Dennis Allen and the Raiders might be looking to move on and have me go to another team or move on and find something more what they want for their system and their scheme,” Houston said. “Who knows? It’s a rough business and nothing’s guaranteed and everything changes from day to day.”
Later that day, Houston took to Twitter to change his tune.
“I would love to b back in Oakland if they will take me. Best fans in the league … u listen to the media, u a fool.”
Maybe the media can jog Houston’s memory by playing back a tape from the interview in question. The fools in the media would be glad to play back the tape recording, and they were prepared to do so Monday, though Houston didn’t come into the locker room during media access.
Allen addressed the issue Monday.
“I did see that quote, and that’s not the case,” Allen said in reference to Houston saying Allen might not want Houston back. “Obviously I sat down with Lamarr today and had a nice discussion with him. We’d love to have him back. We think he fits our system and what we’re trying to do and we think he’s a guy that we can build with.”
— Allen fired four assistant coaches on the day after the regular-season finale last season. He kept his staff intact this season, and it sounds as if that’s the approach he’s taking for the long-term.
“I don’t anticipate a lot of changes,” Allen said. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days and, obviously, there are a lot of discussions that have to be made. So, it’s probably not the right time to be able to make any type of comments on that, but I’m not looking to make a lot of changes.”
— Allen on Monday met with almost every player on his roster before the players departed the facility for the final time this season. During the team and individual meetings, Allen delivered a straightforward message.
“I said that I don’t plan on going anywhere, I plan on being here,” Allen said. “I talked about, we got 113 days between now and the start of the offseason program and we need to make sure that we have a good plan for what we’re gonna do over these next 113 days.
“I talked to all of them from a free agency standpoint about making sure we keep open lines of communication going. If they have any questions or concerns, they need to make sure that they contact me, and I can give them the right answers. And I told them to make sure they do things the right way off the field. The time to have your name in the paper is during the season, not during the offseason. So, make sure that you do the right things and you stay out of trouble.”
— The Raiders came within six points of setting a franchise record for most points allowed in a season. In particular, the defense struggled down the stretch.
Allen said the Raiders need to improve on third-down efficiency and red-zone defense, for sure.
“We have to do a better job with execution,” Allen said. “Obviously, guys are trying to do things the right way, so we have to look at ourselves. And there’s probably some things that we have to be able to teach better, to clean some things up for them, to make some things easier for them.
“There were times in the second half of the year where the field position got out of hand. Now what we’ve got to be able to do is eliminate the touchdowns and make them have to kick field goals.”
— Cornerback D.J. Hayden said he is recovering well from the groin surgery that ended his rookie season. He now is working toward getting stronger and making the most of a whole offseason, which he didn’t have last season.
The Raiders are counting upon Hayden, their 2013 first-round draft pick, to develop into a top-tier player and linchpin of their defense. Hayden had an up-and-down rookie season before he suffered a groin injury.
Hayden is focused on finding ways to help the Raiders get back to their winning ways and not about validating the Raiders taking him with the 12th pick.
“Something to prove? Man, we just got to win,” Hayden said. “That’s all we got to do. That’s the way to prove to Raiders fans, make them happy, get this organization back to where it was. We just got to win.”
— The Raiders signed the following six players from their practice squad to what is known as futures contracts: OL Jack Cornell, WR Jared Green, TE Brian Leonhardt, defensive end Chris McCoy, linebacker Eric Harper and cornerback Johnny Adams.