The big names that are NFL free agents for 2019 get all the attention. Here are some other players Raiders fans should watch that just may be flying under the radar.
Free agency doesn’t officially start until March 13th but that will not stop teams from making cuts to get cap space or signing players to bolster their rosters. Teams have until March 5th to apply either the franchise or transition tag their players. While no moves seem imminent, every day can bring a move that will affect the free agent pool. There are a couple of names that keep coming up in the discussion as possible targets for the Raiders. Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrell Williams are two of the most prominent but in looking at some more realistic, and underrated, targets the Raiders could target, there are some good options to help the team improve. Resigning and tagging players will always change the free agent pool but here are some targets that we expect to hit free agency and could be targeted for the Raiders to improve their defense.
Brandon Graham DE
Salary cap issues will force the Eagles to make some difficult decisions. Graham’s sack numbers have never been eye-popping but if you look deeper at the numbers you see his value off the edge. Quarterback hurries aren’t as sexy as the big sack totals of an Aaron Donald, but they are extremely valuable. Graham has been consistent every year in putting pressure on the QB and should command a smaller contract than the big sack guys. Graham is a value both on and off the field for the Raiders even at the age of 31.
Bryce Callahan CB
Callahan is a name that most people won’t immediately recognize but he was a big part of the Bears defense last season. He played slot corner most of the year which is quickly becoming a very important position in the new offense-happy based NFL. A Pro Football Focus stats darling, Callahan is only 27 years old so his new team will be getting him in the midst of his prime. With all of the three wide receiver sets being played, not to mention playing the Kansas City Chiefs twice every year, the slot corner is a position of need for the Raiders. His low profile may allow a team to grab him for a very reasonable long term deal.
Jason Verrett CB
Fact: Jason Verrett is very good when he plays. Fact: man, does Jason Verrett get hurt a lot. The most important ability in sports is availability which has kept Verrett from becoming a household name. A torn Achilles tendon in training camp derailed his season before it ever started last year. Richard Sherman came back from an Achilles injury so there is some evidence a player can come back and be a contributing player. We will never see the best of Verrett again but a one year “prove it” deal could come on the cheap with a big reward if he can come back and stay healthy.
Jordan Hicks LB
The Raiders have basically overlooked the linebacker position in the past, but that has to change. They will never break the bank on a CJ Mosley type in free agency but Hicks could be a great mid-level option. Injuries have been an issue for Hicks who missed four games last season and half of the 2017 season. A healthy Hicks was all over the field for the Eagles and could provide some desperately needed talent to a linebacker core that leaves a lot to be desired. He will be 27 during the 2019 season so he is still young enough to put together a good career.
The Raiders are a year away from being a year away to contend for the AFC West title, so it makes little sense for the organization to make a play on a big player in free agency. Signing any of these free agents will not put a dent in the cap space war chest the Raiders have accumulated for upcoming seasons. With the draft picks this year, and the move to Las Vegas next year, expect the Raiders to roll over a bunch of cap space for a larger and more significant free agent spending spree next year.