The Oakland Raiders entered free agency with about $60 million in salary cap space, which was apparently an NFL record.
And while building through free agency is hardly ever the answer, we're baffled by what Oakland has done (or failed to do) thus far in the process.
The Raiders have inexplicably let their top free agents walk. Lamarr Houston, who led the team in sacks in 2013, left to join the Bears. Jared Veldheer, who according to Pro Football Focus was the league's sixth-best left tackle in 2012, went to Arizona. And Rashad Jennings, who was the best back in the league for much of the second half of the 2013 campaign, will jump to the Giants.
On top of that, the only player the Raiders have signed is Rodger Saffold, who hasn't started more than 12 games since his rookie season in 2010 and had been somewhat of a bust in St. Louis. Saffold is supposed to replace Veldheer, but many think he's better suited as a guard at this stage.
Veldheer got $7 million per year from the Cardinals, which would have been a drop in the cap space bucket for the Raiders. But amazingly, Saffold got $8.5 million from Oakland, with a ridiculous $21 million guaranteed (as opposed to $17 million guaranteed for the much better Veldheer).
It just doesn't make sense.
The Raiders still have plenty of money to spend and lots of players are available, but the pool has become a lot less deep. Only a handful of prime free agents remain available, and the top players at every position except wide receiver are gone. The Raiders have plenty of holes coming off a season in which they won just four games and lost eight of their last nine, but they're sitting on their hands.
How does general manager Reggie McKenzie defend this, especially considering that he threw his support behind all three of those departed free agents earlier in the year?
Same old Raiders.