The Raiders, armed with a boatload of cap space, had hoped to make a big splash in free agency. They wanted Ndamukong Suh, they wanted DeMarco Murray, and they wanted Randall Cobb, among others. But while the Raiders were unable to land the biggest of the big names, they have acquired a number of quality players that should give the team a lift in 2015. Rodney Hudson is one of the league’s best centers, and Dan Williams and Curtis Lofton will give the front seven a much-needed boost. Roy Helu, meanwhile, has a ton of upside and could be one of the offseason’s biggest steals.
At the Raiders’ Commitment to Excellence dinner honoring free safety Charles Woodson last night, GM Reggie McKenzie and Woodson himself spoke about what the team has accomplished so far. Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group passes along a few interesting notes on what those two had to say (all links go to Twitter, unless otherwise noted):
- McKenzie said that the plan this offseason was to acquire younger players who are still in their prime years. Last year, of course, the Raiders targeted older players who could provide leadership and help to change the team’s culture.
- The older players that were acquired last season largely served their purpose, and some, like Donald Penn, Justin Tuck, and Woodson were retained, as they are still capable contributors. Otherwise, Oakland sought young “starter-types.”
- Confirming what we had already learned, McKenzie said the team did make a strong push Suh but will not pursue Greg Hardy.
- McKenzie spoke specifically about Hudson and new safety Nate Allen. He said that the Raiders jumped at the chance to sign Hudson, who is a skilled pass-blocker and run-blocker, and he cited Allen’s range, versatility, and instincts as the major factors in his signing.
- Both McKenzie and Woodson spoke of the positive energy that the new acquisitions bring with them, and Woodson discussed how a staff assembled of former players contribute to that energy.
- Woodson added that he helped to recruit a few of the team’s new additions, though most of them had already agreed to terms.
- In a full-length piece, McDonald provides a quote from Woodson that accurately summarizes the team’s offseason: “There’s no question that Suh would have been huge. He would have been a great addition to the team,” Woodson said. “At the same time, if you don’t get a Suh, you can get three or four other players to make up for it. And what that does is build depth.”
- For his part, McDonald tweets that this free agent class could end up being a great one, just like last year’s draft class. Given the quality of the signings and the impact they should have on the team’s overall depth, it appears McDonald’s optimism is well-founded.