The Oakland Raiders have a copious amount of cap space to work with this offseason, and while that doesn’t mean GM Reggie McKenzie should just go out and binge on free agents this year, it does mean that the Raiders have an excellent opportunity to sign a couple of big-name players. But before signing free agents, the Raiders have to worry about keeping two of their own, as they have two top-notch impending free agents on their hands.
Left tackle Jared Veldheer is one of the more talented offensive linemen in the game, and it’s clear that both sides would like to get a long-term deal done. If the Raiders aren’t able to keep him, then McKenzie should kick himself repeatedly. Defensive end Lamarr Houston is the bigger risk to leave, and losing him would turn DE into a gaping hole that would have to be addressed by picking up a guy like Jadeveon Clowney. It sounds like Houston wants to get paid big bucks, irrelevant of whether or not he gets his paycheck from the Raiders.
Draft insider Tony Pauline reports that the Oakland Raiders are expected to use either the franchise or transition tag on Lamarr Houston, who is a very good pass rusher and arguably the best run-stuffing 4-3 DE in the league (I think Rob Ninkovich is a bit better in that regard, but Houston is close and is obviously a better pass rusher than Ninko).
Pauline believes that it makes more sense for the Raiders to use the transition tag on Houston due to their cap space, and I also agree that the transition tag makes more sense. When a team uses the transition tag on a player, they have the ability to match an offer on that player within seven days in order to keep him. This gives the Raiders a chance to give Houston a long-term deal, while also making sure that they have a safeguard against overpaying him and can more accurately see what his market value is.