Odds N Sods
Justin Fargas, who didn't test the free agent waters, was signed by the Raiders yesterday to a fair market contract of 3 years, $12M with $6M guranteed. Fargas is an ideal fit for the Raiders running attack which is based on the Zone Blocking Scheme. It is the type of system that requires the back to make 1 decisive cut up field and accelerate to the 2nd level. With Fargas in the fold, there is no reason to use our 1st round pick on Darren McFadden.
It is my hope that Michael Bush will become an intergal and complimentary part to the Raiders rushing attack. Fargas & Bush could be similar to the "Thunder & Lightning" attack of White & Bush at USC or Jacobs & Bradshaw of the GMen. One of the skill areas that I would like to see Fargas develop in the off season/training camp is his pass catching abilities which are below par. Durability is also a concern over the rugged 16 game season. Depth is crucial at this position. Fargas, Rhodes, Bush, and Eche would be a versatile and solid group moving forward into 2008. Jordan can pack his bags come June 1st and tryout for the next edition of "Dancing with the Stars".
With the free agency period upon on us in 2 weeks and the Draft in April, here are some of my quick thoughts on this matter:
* I would LOVE to see the Raiders dilligently negotiate a long term contract with Nnamdi Asomugha once the franchise tag is placed upon him. The numbers that popped into my head are 6 years, $50M with $25 guaranteed. This would be a slightly below market value (approx. $8.3M per year average) contract for one of the top 5 CBs in the entire NFL. In my estimation, this would be a shrewd business move for the Raiders organization and a way to reward Nnamdi farily for his value to the team. Nnamdi is clearly a cornerstone, franchise type player.
* The WR position needs to be addressed aggressively in both the free agent market and draft. The Raiders desperately need playmakers AND depth in order for JaMarcus Russell to realize his potential. Assuming Jerry Porter signs elsewhere (Miami, SF), the Raiders WR corps is paper thin. Ronald Curry is a solid, chain moving possession WR who is effective in the slot. Jonny Lee Higgins is a speed merchant who is in development. I'm not sure if the Raiders will bring back Tim Dwight. I would like to see the Raiders sign 2 free agents and at least 1 draftee. These are a few FAs that intrigue me:
Bernard Berrian (Chicago) > Big play threat ideal for Russell. The downside to Berrian who hails from Fresno is that he isn't a true #1 WR and in a diluted WR class, he will command more money than what he is probably worth.
Bryant Johnson (Arizona) > A very physical, polished WR who has been stuck behind Fitzgerald & Boldin which has effected his numbers. Would be a solid #2 WR.
Dervey Henderson (New Orleans) > Untapped athleticism, excellent deep threat and only 26 years old.
Greg Camarillo (Miami) > Some of you might be saying "Camarillo?". He is the potential hidden gem in the FA class. Some pundits make the case that Camarillo is in the same mold as Welker ... a gritty, hard working WR who just needs an opportunity.
Draft Prospects. These are potential WRs who would be prospective picks for the 2nd and 4th rounds (The Raiders don't have a 3rd round pick).
Early Doucet (LSU) > An elite college WR who already has a rapport and relationship with Russell. Projected to be a late 1st round/early 2nd round pick.
Limas Sweed (Texas) > At 6'4", 215, Sweed is very phyical and atletic target. His draft slot has been dropping due to a wrist injury which prevented him from playing in the Senior Bowl.
James Hardy (Indiana) > The 6'6" WR was a productive force for the Hoosiers.
Jordy Nelson (Kansas State) > A former walk on who has quickly developed into a versatile and explosive WR.
LaVelle Hawkins (Cal) > Hawkins is a big play threat everytime he touches the ball and could have a dual purpose of excelling as a KR/PR.
Although I will post a more detailed anaysis of the draft in the coming months, let me share my views on our 1st round pick. I'm 100% sold on taking "Son of Howie" (Chris Long, DE, Virginia) as our 1st round selection. Both Glenn Dorsey (DT, LSU) and Sedrick Ellis (DT, USC) would be excellent choices to fill the need for a run stuffer. However, I believe drafting Long would kill 2 birds with 1 stone. He helps address 2 of our most critical defensive deficiecies (stopping the run: 31st ranked; pass rush: only 27 total team sacks). Long, 6'5", 285, is strong at the point of attack and has a knack for getting to the QB just like his pops. He would be a great bookend DE pass rusher on the opposite side of the field of Derrick Burgess.