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NFL Free Agency 2016: Oakland Raiders aggressive early

While Free Agency hasn’t technically opened yet the Oakland Raiders have already been busy, reportedly agr


While Free Agency hasn’t technically opened yet the Oakland Raiders have already been busy, reportedly agreeing contract terms with two of the young stars who made it onto the open market this year. With more than $65 million in cap space they have the money to throw at their targets and are starting to shed the image of failure and uncompetitiveness that prevented them from signing good players before. Kelechi Osemele, Offensive Line: 5 year/$60,000,000 Osemele is an incredibly versatile player. He’s been a mauling left guard and Super Bowl winning right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, even filling in well at left tackle for a short period. The Raiders really need someone like that. Their offensive line was surprisingly productive in 2015, but with left tackle Donald Penn and an opening at right guard they need someone to come in and get to work straight away. Whether they see Osemele as a full time left tackle we don’t know, it’s certainly a possibility but with the draft to come Oakland have given themselves enough flexibility to pick up another piece on the offensive line without overloading one position to the detriment of another. Bruce Irvin, Edge defender: Unknown Irvin never really lived up to his draft position, being taken 15th overall in 2012 by Seattle, a move which surprised many. Seattle recouped some value on him by creating some versatility in him and now he is able to line up as a classic 4-3 defensive end or an outside linebacker. Khalil Mack aside the Raiders pass rush has been anaemic so it’s likely Irvin, who has 12 sacks in the last 2 seasons as a situational rusher only, will put his hand in the ground opposite Mack and cause some havoc in the backfield regularly. But again this signing doesn’t lock the Raiders into a formation or personnel set and take away draft day options. Should one of the better pass rushers be available to them at #14 on draft day then Oakland can still take them and just slide Irvin into linebacker and still have a productive player. Both these signings signal that Reggie McKenzie is keen optimise the young talent they have drafted recently. Osemele will give time for Derek Carr to find Amari Cooper regularly. Bruce Irvin will take some of the pressure off Khalil Mack, as well as some of the double teams. Should they work out these signings could push Oakland into play-off contention in 2016. They will certainly make them a better team than they were last year.

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL Free Agency 2016: Oakland Raiders aggressive early

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