With things looking like a new CBA deal could be reached very soon, the Raiders have set themselves in a good position to keep most of their best players from entering free agency.
Their main goal was to retain several of their own key free agents and it appears they have locked up most of them. The one glaring omission of course would be Nnamdi Asomugha.
The most recent free agents the team is attempting to ensure will return according to Jerry McDonald at the Contra Costa Times are restricted free agents Michael Bush and Zach Miller. The CBA is expected to have similar rules regarding when a player is eligible for unrestricted free agency — at least in the immediate future. So the Raiders slapped both players with the highest possible free agent tenders. That means the only way a team can sign either player is if they are willing to part with a first and third round pick as compensation. It is not likely, even as good as Bush and Miller are, that any team would give up that much for either one of them. But the window still exists that a team with a low round pick might think Zach Miller holds that kind of value. However, the Raiders are still actively trying to work out a long term deal with Zach and he has said publicly that he would very much like that to happen.
UPDATE: Long Snapper John Condo has also been given a round two tender.
Prior to this latest development, the Raiders had also locked up several players they considered a high priority. They put the franchise tag on Kamerion Wimbley and signed Stanford Routt, John Henderson (reportedly), and Richard Seymour to longterm deals. They tied up a lot of money in those four players but obviously re-signing their own players was a priority and they accomplished that.
The players who look like they could be odd men out are Robert Gallery and Michael Huff. Gallery has come out publicly and said that he will be moving on due to the few conversations he and the Raiders had. And the word is that only a “few” conversations were needed, since neither was willing to compromise on two vastly different ideas of Gallery’s worth. Gallery said $8 million and the team said $2.5. He is an unfortunate loss as he has been the best offensive lineman the Raiders have, when he is healthy. No doubt his injury concerns played a role in the low figure offered by the Raiders.
As far as Huff is concerned, there has been nothing, rumor or otherwise,to say that he and the team have talked about a contract. He has stated on his Twitter page that he is pretty much resigned to the fact that he will have to test the market and see what it brings. That may be what the Raiders want to happen. Based on the level of interest, they will see if they think Huff is worth it. Right now it doesn’t look promising for the former seventh overall pick.
The next priority is the free agent offensive lineman — Langston Walker being the foremost among them. There has also been no word of any contract discussions with him but he probably won’t garner a great deal of interest from around the league. I can’t see the Raiders letting him walk if they can get him for a reasonable price. Even if they are ready for Mario Henderson to step up and take the starting job at right tackle, Walker would be valuable depth.
Speaking of Mario Henderson, he too is up for restricted free agency. Teams can still put tenders on players during the CBA extension and I would expect the Raiders to put a round two tender on him to keep him around.
Samson Satele could see the same tender but for him it would be an original round tender because he was drafted in round two. With the Raiders having no other options at center, and Gallery leaving the team, Satele must be retained either as the starting center or solid depth.
UPDATE: Satele has now indeed received an original round two tender.
The final lineman that the team will look to bring back is Daniel Loper. He was picked up off the scrap heap last offseason and played extremely well in preseason and during the season when Gallery went down with injury. He will come pretty cheap so he is definitely worth the effort.
UPDATE: Loper has received a 2 year contract to stay with the team.
Keep in mind that the tenders placed on Zach Miller and Michael Bush are just the deals that have been revealed. There are likely more that have been handed out that have yet to be confirmed or are in the works, and most likely placed on many of the players I listed above.
The remaining free agent players not listed here are not as high of a priority: QB Bruce Gradkowski , LB Ricky Brown, S Hiram Eugene, WR Jonnie Lee Higgins, DE Jarvis Moss, LB Thomas Howard, OT Khalif Barnes, QB Kyle Boller, QB Charlie Frye, QB JT O’Sullivan, RB Michael Bennett, and LB Sam Williams. Some of these players will be offered minimum deals while the others will be allowed to move on.
The good news is that what started as a seemingly massive amount of free agents to sign has been whittled down to only a few key guys.