Kelechi Osemele was the first shoe to drop in the Raiders big free agency push and the offensive lineman is fired up the moves his new team is making.
“Seeing the fan base just go crazy and see more guys join the team and see the fans engage even more, it’s been exciting to see,” Osemele said on a conference call Thursday after his signing was finalize. “I’ve never really seen a fan base like this that’s responded in such a big way to welcoming new players. That definitely makes it easier for you to go out there and do your job.”
Osemele agreed to terms with the Raiders on Tuesday morning and he was in Alameda on Thursday to officially sign his contract, reportedly a five-year deal worth up to $60 million.
His role on the offensive line won’t be determined until the Raiders roster is set. He started 16 games at right tackle as a rookie with Baltimore in 2012, but moved to left guard for the playoffs as the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
Guard is where he made a name for himself with Baltimore before moving to left tackle for the final four games of last season. If the Raiders don’t bring back Donald Penn, Osemele is expected to play left tackle, otherwise he’ll handle one of the guard positions.
“It definitely is going to be predicated on how the rest of free agency turns out,” Osemele said of his position. “I’ve played both positions. I think I can play both at a considerably high level. I’m comfortable with either. Whatever position I have to play to help us win games is where I’m going to be at.”
Osemele raved about the Raiders emphasis on building the offensive line after “coming from a place where that was not really appreciated.” Last year the team spent big to bring in center Rodney Hudson and also has a solid foundational piece in third-year left guard Gabe Jackson.
“Offensive line play is a focus and it matters,” Osemele said. “They want to build that up. That was a big factor.”
He said the impression around the league is changing toward the Raiders, and he got an up close look at them last season when Baltimore lost 37-33 in Oakland in Week 2.
“I know we went down there when I was with the Ravens and we got our behinds shocked,” Osemele said. “They were explosive, had a lot of weapons, a lot of tough young guys that get after it, that are aggressive. You really don’t see that with every team in the NFL anymore.”
A deeper look at Osemele’s deal, per Overthecap.com, shows that he is guaranteed $24.5 million over the first two seasons of his five-year deal. After that, he’s owed $9.7 million in base salary each of the next two years and $11.2 million his final season with $500,000 workout bonus each year. But none of that money after the first two years is guaranteed so the deal essentially is for two years and the Raiders could break free without a cap hit any of the final three years.