The Oakland Raiders best player is very likely defensive end Lamarr Houston, who is one of the best two-way defensive ends in the NFL. Not only does Houston do a solid job of putting pressure on the quarterback, but he is also one of the best DEs in the NFL at stopping the run. Houston is easily the Raiders best pass rusher, and there is little doubt that he’s one of the most important players on the team- not just on the Raiders defense.
Houston is set to hit free agency this offseason, and it sounds like Houston doesn’t think he’ll be back with the team in 2014. According to the Contra Costa Times’s Jerry McDonald, Houston is not optimistic when it comes to his chances of being re-signed by the team that he has spent his entire four-year career with, “I believe that Dennis Allen and the Raiders might be looking to move on and have me go to another team and find something more what they want for their system and their scheme. Who knows? It’s a rough business, and nothing’s guaranteed, and everything changes from day to day.”
Hopefully Houston is being paranoid here and just speculating, because Dennis Allen and the Raiders would be beyond crazy if they simply let Houston walk away. They absolutely can’t be willing to let go of arguably their best player, especially since he is one of the only bright spots on an awful defense. I don’t understand how Houston doesn’t fit the Raiders scheme, and I don’t understand how scheme is more important than keeping a star player.
That said, I don’t think we can take Houston’s word at face value, because he might just be speculating or, if you are really cynical, planting a seed against the Raiders. I don’t see how the Raiders don’t make at least a significant offer to keep Houston around, and it would be a shock for them to not go hard after him.
Star left tackle Jared Veldheer is also a free agent, but there’s more than enough money to go around for Reggie McKenzie to re-sign both. Veldheer and Houston will command large contracts, but they are so good and so important to this team that the Raiders have to try as hard as possible to keep them. It’s not wise to overpay, but I don’t think they’ll end up being in a position where they are asked to grossly overpay either. The bottom line is, Veldheer and Houston are the two best players on the Raiders.