With three picks in the first round of the upcoming draft, the Raiders certainly will use the selection of former college talent as the centerpiece of their roster improvement this offseason.
But for now, at least, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have put the draft behind free agency.
With the start of veteran free agency in mid-March, the Raiders have an opportunity to seek out some key players with experience to make immediate impacts at positions of need. Recently, Gruden told J.T. the Brick on “The Game Plan” podcast that he and Mayock are spending all their time right now studying potential free agents.
Especially younger players.
“That’s what we’ve been doing the last 10 days,” Gruden said. “We’ve been doing nothing but studying free agents. Guys (whose) contracts are up. Obviously, we aren’t looking to add players that are at the end of their career. We’re looking for blossoming young players, those guys usually don’t get to free agency. The pickings are slim for everybody, but there are a couple diamonds in the rough.
“We’ll see where the market goes, but you don’t want to spend all our money on a few free agents, you want to try and keep some of that money available in case a trade might develop during the draft.”
Recently, Mayock said the tier-2 free agents – guys below the elite players available – provide an opportunity for the Raiders to make big gains without spending the biggest dollars.
“There are the tier-2 guys that I think are critical for every team,” Mayock told reporters. “Which ones are the emerging players that you can get that won’t kill you on the salary-cap side?”
Mayock said tier-2 and tier-3 free agents must be evaluated not only for their upside, but for their potential downside.
“It’s buyer beware,” said Mayock. “There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive, but do your homework, understand who that person is as a person in addition to a football player.”
For now, it’s homework time for Gruden and Mayock.
This post was originally posted at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Raiders-Gruden-Mayock-Doing-Their-Homework-506326601.html.