Another week down, and Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie keeps on rolling. While he only signed three players this past week, he continues to show he has an eye for cheap value on the market.
This week’s new Raiders are running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive lineman C.J Wilson. McKenzie also resigned last year’s starting defensive tackle, Pat Sims.
Jones-Drew is one of the latest big name free agents, but it’s far from a sure thing. While he had a good comeback season in 2013 after returning from a major foot injury, Jones-Drew was a shadow of the explosive back he once was. He was able to get what was blocked, and did show some moves to break tackles, but once he had open space, he could rarely hit second gear and get downfield.
However Jones-Drew is an upgrade for the offense. As many Raider fans know, Darren McFadden has been a colossal bust, and will likely spend the next year in Oakland getting tackled at the line of scrimmage. Latavius Murray is a favorite of the coaching staff, but has no experience. Jeremy Stewart is better used as a deep backup, and Kory Sheets has been out of the NFL for four seasons playing in Canada. Jones-Drew is now the likely starter, and will get good yardage behind a revamped offensive line.
Wilson is not as a big name, but just as valuable. One of the many rotational 3-4 defensive ends in Green Bay, he was one of their best run stoppers. Likely competing for the starting 1-tech DT job, Wilson’s run-plugging abilities will be an asset to an Oakland team who routinely got beat up on the ground. Wilson’s signing also adds to the possible scenario that Oakland is trying to move to a 3-4 defense entirely.
Sims is the familiar face in the defensive line. As of now, he is the only returning starter. Between him and Vance Walker, the team wanted both back, but Sims is the far more important piece. He was a foundational run-stopper who came on especially late in the year. Even if he does not earn the starting job, he will be a key rotational lineman and help teach Jason Tarver’s defense to the swarm of new faces on the defensive line.
While it was a quiet week for the Raiders, it does not mean it will stay that way. They now have enough workable talent at all positions to not freak out and make stupid moves in the draft. Outside of cornerback, the team could probably play a game today and have a decent chance of winning with what they have.