The group of Raiders unrestricted free agents sits at a baker’s dozen. That’s a healthy sum that includes prominent members of the 2013 NFL draft class. It’s the first time a full slate of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s selections reached this point – his 2012 class started in the third round, and didn’t last long – and leaves some interesting decisions ahead as the offseason progresses.
Unrestricted free agency starts March 9, but the Raiders can sign their own before then. How often that happens remains uncertain, considering the open market will help settle valuations for players and clubs alike.
There are some interesting players to follow among these 13 players, with running back Latavius Murray notable among them. He had two strong seasons to conclude his four-year contract, including a 1,000-yard season as a feature back in 2015 and 788 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as the lead dog in a rushing rotation.
Murray has said he wants to return, though he might receive better offers on the open market. Running backs don’t get many chances at unrestricted free agency, and another team might want to pay more to get the Central Florida product.
Cornerback DJ Hayden and right tackle Menelik Watson are also ready to hit free agency, as are a few key veterans on shorter deals. Let’s take a look at the players close to hitting unrestricted free agency...
RB Latavius Murray: As we mentioned above, Murray wants to come back. He was an early part of this Raiders' rise, and wants to see it through. He undoubtedly wants fair market value as well. His 12 rushing touchdowns and size and speed in open space could create value the Raiders won’t match. The Raiders like Murray and his skill set, but the open market could dictate whether or not he returns.
LB Malcolm Smith: Smith has been a mainstay at interior linebacker since signing with the Raiders two offseasons ago in free agency. He earned the right to make 30 starts and play virtually every snap, though it will interesting to see if he is retained in that role or if the Raiders will look for upgrades at his position.
LB Perry Riley Jr.: Riley brought stability to the team’s interior linebacker corps after signing in Week 5. His veteran presence and steady tackling helped against the run and pass. He may want to turn solid play into a longer-term deal. Riley would be valuable as a returner for the right price, and could help maintain order inside if the team decides to use a high-round draft pick on an interior linebacker.
S Nate Allen: The veteran was willing to take a one-year contract after getting released, and proved to be a quality backup behind Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph. The Raiders don’t have a solid option there, so a return on a salary commiserate to that role would likely be welcome. If Allen wants a real chance to start -- he did so during his first five NFL seasons -- he’ll have to look elsewhere.
CB DJ Hayden: The 2013 first-round pick was eligible to get a fifth-round option for the 2017 season, but the Raiders didn’t offer one. His play and issues with injury didn’t warrant one last offseason, but he had a stronger 2016 mostly playing in the slot. Hayden’s effectiveness and confidence grew inside, before he suffered a season-ending hamstring tear. He’s well liked in Alameda could be back at the right price.
OT Menelik Watson: Injury problems defined his entire rookie contract, and prohibited the type of experience and development that could’ve landed Watson a big-money deal following his rookie contract. He still has potential as a starting offensive tackle.
WR Andre Holmes: Holmes increased his value to the Raiders (or any team, for that matter) by becoming a standout cover man on special teams. He was a quality No. 4 receiver with steady hands and an ability to make plays downfield. Holmes said he wants to remain a Raider.
QB Matt McGloin: The Raiders backup quarterback didn’t show well after Derek Carr got hurt and before he suffered a shoulder injury. He’s looking for a place to fight for a starting gig. That isn’t here.
LS Jon Condo: Steady long snappers are hard to find. That’s why Condo has been around so long. The 35-year old made seven figures last year, though they’ve never minded paying specialists well.
DT Stacy McGee: The 2013 sixth-round pick proved that he belonged this year and improved throughout his rookie year, but a strong start to the 2016 season flamed out due to ankle and groin injuries.
TE Mychal Rivera: Rivera made some nice catches down the stretch, but he was a healthy scratch when Clive Walford and Lee Smith were healthy. Gabe Holmes is also floating out there on the mend. Rivera might want to find a place where he’d be higher up the depth chart.
LB Daren Bates: Bates signed a one-year deal last offseason to contribute on special teams. He did that well.
S Brynden Trawick: Like Bates, Trawick was brought in to be a special teams leader. He certainly was and made impact plays in the kicking game. He looked good when forced into action on defense, and could be a backup at strong safety.