This is my first article for Thoughts from the Dark Side, and hopefully it will be the first of many. Since free agency is upon us, it seems fitting that I would write about which players may be out there that would fit nicely with the Silver and Black. Here is a list in order of importance of the Raiders’ needs as well as who is available in this year’s crop.
DT Corey Williams, UFA, Green Bay Packers
A starting defensive tackle for one of the best defenses in the NFL in Green Bay certainly helps his stock in Free Agency. Williams has been able to tally seven sacks (which places him among the top tackles in that department) along with 32 total tackles and three forced fumbles. He will not come cheap though because with Albert Haynesworth being tagged by the Titans, Williams becomes the premiere tackle on the market. But the Raiders have some cap money to spend and there is no bigger need than DT so spending it on Williams would be a wise investment.
DE Antwan Odom, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Odom had 8 sacks from the Defensive End spot. Helping the Titans have the #1 rushing defense and #9 total defense in the NFL. 8 sacks is a decent number and albeit not spectacular, but Odom will take some pressure off of Burgess, while his opposite DE in Tennessee had just 6 sacks which won’t get all that much attention. He would compliment Derrick Burgess nicely on the other side where Chris Clemons has been serviceable at best.
WR Bernard Berrian, UFA, Chicago Bears
Berrian is just 27 years old and is the deep threat that the Raiders have been lacking. In fact he is one of only two real deep threats available in Free Agency this year. The other one’s name will not be mentioned. Berrian posted 951 receiving yards and 5 Tds for the Bears this season. In fact, he has posted good numbers two years in a row and all with uncertain and erratic quarterback play. With the addition of Berrian, the Raiders could try and grab a good posession reciever either in the draft or later in FA for a bargain price.
LT Flozell Adams, UFA, Dallas Cowboys
A good veteran left tackle may be just what this team needs. Barry “false start” Sims can at very least move back to Right tackle where he belongs until we can find a suitable replacement for him or he retires (whichever comes first). The Cowboys have young talent behind Adams to take over that LT spot and are likely to let him go to try and save some money. With the shortage of LT out there Adams will probably get a lot of interest and therefore earn a decent contract.
OT Max Starks, UFA, Pittsburgh Steelers
I have a few numbers for you: 25, 6’7″, 337. That’s his age, height and weight. Now those are impressive enough all by themselves. But Starks has shown a lot of potential and he could very well be a top tier tackle in the market this year because of it. On the other hand he may come at a great price. Either way, he would be a smart pick up on a team with a lot of bodies on the offensive line but few worthy of starting.
LB Kawika Mitchell UFA New York Giants
Prior to Mitchell’s 69 tackles this season with the Giants, he had two straight seasons over 100 tackles (104, 105). But don’t let this stat fool you. With the Chiefs he was asked to carry a large load on a terrible defense. This year he was surrounded by a stellar defense and was spelled by depth at the LB spot. What this says to me is that he can be the guy when he needs to be as well as compliment a great defense. The Raiders are set at Middle and Weakside Linebacker with Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard. Michell is that Strongside Linebacker they desperately need. And with Mitchell’s Superbowl performance and Al Davis’ penchant for swiping up guys who perform well in them (ie Giants: Jeff Hostetler, Cowboys: Larry Brown, and Packers: Desmond Howard) there stands a pretty good chance of there being some interest in Mitchell’s services. However, with Terrell Suggs and Karlos Dansby likely getting the franchise tag put on them the market should be pretty thin. That along with the Superbowl win will mean that someone might just overpay for Mitchell. Will it be the Raiders?
Now some of you may be thinking “We need a Safety! Why is there no safety on this list?”. Well the reason is because the Raiders need a Strong Safety so that Michael Huff can return to his natural position of Free Safety and there just aren’t any Strong Safeties out there that would be an upgrade. So it stands to reason that the draft would be the best place to look for a Strong Safety.
You might also be wondering “why is Lance Briggs not on this list?” Well, because Lance Briggs is a Weakside Linebacker and the Raiders are set on the weakside by Thomas Howard. Granted Briggs would still be an upgrade but he is the best LB on the market and is set for a HUGE payday and the Raiders have bigger fish to fry.
All in all I believe that if the Raiders sign one or more of these players this offseason, this team will look pretty good heading into the draft and very formidable heading into next season. If not then it looks like another year of rebuilding…or dismantling…sometimes it is hard to tell which direction Al Davis is moving.