Raiders making smart moves early in free agency
Well the Oakland Raiders have so far lost Desmond Bryant to the Cleveland Browns, Philip Wheeler to the Miami Dolphins and officially cut Darrius Heyward-Bey and Dave Tollefson. Michael Huff won’t be cut until June 1st, but he’s basically a dead man walking.
So the Raiders other than the needs they already had to begin with this season have to fill the void left with these players being cut or lost to free agency. And the Raiders went out and found some depth to fill three of the players lost.
Starting with the loss of Philip Wheeler; Wheeler was just a case of being outspent by the Dolphins. Despite Wheeler being a fan favorite last season was just a case of being a good player on a bad defense. He looked good, because everyone around him for the most part was just that bad.
That’s why losing Wheeler isn’t as bad as people will make it out to be, and the Raiders brought a good depth player in Kaluka Maiava. In case you didn’t know yet, Miles Burris is the Raiders weakside linebacker of the future, but Maiava can be a serviceable backup for Burris next season.
However the true value of Maiava is on special teams. He was an established thumper on special teams with the Cleveland Browns, and will earn his money in that capacity unless Burris gets injured.
Maiava proved he can be a serviceable backup when he was thrust into the starting job in Cleveland last season, but again, he will mostly be used on special teams. The only other intriguing idea for Maiava is safety, but that would be a reach by how much talent he really has.
The next player the Raiders signed was former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Pat Sims who is another serviceable backup. He is nowhere near the player Desmond Bryant was, but Bryant wasn’t worth 6 million+ a season either.
Sims has some experience starting, but he could be the Raiders’ nose tackle in 2013. He has the body for it, and the much buzzed about 3-4 defense might finally become a reality.
The last player signed is former Denver Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter. Hunter missed 2012 due to a torn triceps, but his signing confuses me.
Mainly, because Hunter fits best as a 4-3 defensive end, and when Hunter played 3-4 outside linebacker with the Broncos in 2010; he was average. However he has some pass rush ability, and could turn into a steady starter at strongside outside linebacker in the 3-4 if the transition takes place. I see Hunter more as a backup, but he can start in 2013 if he has to.
The Bottom-line is the Raiders are filling this roster with talent. The Raiders are not going to make a big splash in free agency this offseason, but they are making a ripple. Raider fans just need to pray the draft gods can show some mercy this year, and the Raiders can easily build upon their 4-12 season in 2013.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.