Monday, March 24, 2014

The return for 2014

It's 2014 and I'm about to jump back on the football saddle. For real this time.

I've already had a wander through the 2014 draft class and plan to start going through them position by position very shortly. Just in case this does unexpectedly become my only post of 2014, I'd just like to say on the record that Blake Bortles is awful, Teddy Bridgewater is kind of ok, that A.J. McCarron from Alabama is the quarterback I would want to take in the first ten picks if I was in desperate need of a quarterback, and that Isaiah Crowell strikes me as the best running back of this draft class.

Considering I called Russell Wilson and Nick Foles back before the 2012 draft, I'm happy to take my own assessment of the quarterback class over most of the mainstream outlets.

Before I go into that though, I just want to get my personal beef with the Raiders staff out of the way. And I don't even like the Raiders.

See free agency is about filling holes. It's about teams that are already pretty good adding additional personnel to their roster, usually at a premium price, in order to make a push for the Superbowl. See the Broncos and their acquisitions, designed to support Peyton Manning and try to win a Superbowl within the narrow window that is left in his career. 

What free agency is not about is rebuilding your football team. Generally free agents only end up as such because 1) their team hasn't got the cap space to keep them, 2) their team isn't prepared to pay the players salary demands or 3) because the team doesn't think the player is that good and as such worth keeping. It should be noted that 1 and 2 are effectively just round about ways of saying 3, because if someone is really that good then you would find the cap space for them.

That's not a huge problem for good teams with established players. They can live with overpaying a free agent a little if it helps them complete the puzzle of winning the big one. But if you're the Raiders, a team that is in catastrophically bad shape at most positions, then you really shouldn't be pouring money down the drain on free agents that are on the tail end of their careers.

Justin Tuck for example.

Now don't get me wrong, Justin Tuck is a good player. He is still playing at a level where he can be a difference maker. The trouble is that by the time the Raiders have rebuilt their franchise Tuck will be probably another 3 years older and will have most definitely reached the cliff of his career. All they're doing is throwing money (and cap space) at a player who is not going to be around when the team has finally gotten back on its feet. 

You're not going to win now by signing Justin Tuck and Matt Schaub. This is not going to bring Oakland a Superbowl. It's just delaying the inevitable moment when they sit down and realise that they need to start completely from scratch. Oakland has a huge amount of cap space, with almost 50% of the entire cap being available at the start of free agency. This was their perfect chance to lock down key young players like Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer, while taking the cap hit now to release expensive players who are not going to be of long term use. It was an ideal situation.

And yet the Raiders somehow blew it. In the past we would have blamed it on Al Davis. That is no longer an option. It just seems to be a disease of mediocrity that the Raiders can't seem to cure themselves of. 

Still, they could always improve in the draft if they can just stay away from physically gifted but technically and mentally impoverished prospects...

... Yeah you're right, they're screwed.

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