5 Free Agents the Raiders Should Target in 2016

It's 2016 and the Raiders have not had a winning record in well over a decade. However, the atmosphere is thick with anticipation that the Raiders are on the verge of challenging for a playoff spot. Within the division, the Chargers are in disarray, the Chiefs are competitive but the Raiders beat them down the stretch, and often Super Bowl winners struggle the preceding season. Bronco's Von Miller is going to make QB money and they may not have a QB. All of these reasons, in addition to the second most cap space, has Raider Nation giddy.

The following are five free agents the Raiders should target that will allow them to go BPA (best player available) in the draft and hopefully return to prominence.
broncosDE Malik Jackson   Age: 26   Position: 5-tech DE   Est. Contract: 5yrs/$60M

In all honesty, Malik Jackson is probably the Raiders only chance to land a big named free agent. The California state tax code puts California teams at a distinct disadvantage and the Raider mystique has long been tarnished. As recently as 2014 the Raiders were viewed as the least desirable free agency destination in a players poll. Hence, the Raiders usually have to overpay to attract decent players.

Don't be misled, Jackson will not come cheaply. However, provided the money is essentially the same, in Jackson's case he has numerous strong ties that could lead him to the Raiders. He is from Los Angeles and played two years at Southern Cal before transferring to Tennessee, which happens to be the alma mater of both GM Reggie McKenzie and Dir. of Player Personnel Joey Clinkscales. But the connections don't stop there, Malik developed the most under the watchful eye of Raider's current Head Coach, Jack Del Rio. Some suggest that a lucrative contract and a friendly relationship may woo Jackson away from Denver.

Realistically, there are other DE options such as Olivier Vernon and Mario Williams but the Raiders are unlikely to make a major play for either. Vernon has played his entire football career in the state of Florida where there is no state tax. It would take a tremendous contract to pry Vernon out of Florida. Mario Williams could be an option but historically under McKenzie the Raiders are usually late entrants into free agency and Mario is looking to make a decision quickly.
titans LB Zack Brown   Age: 26   Position: WILL or MIKE  Est. Contract: N/A

Last season no team in the NFL was gutted more effectively by tight ends than the Raider's defense so it comes as no surprise that Raider Nation desperately wants the LB position addressed in a major way. Zack Brown is a highly underrated option that the Raiders should vet as a possible addition to man either the middle of the defense or weak side LB. While he is not as well known as Denver's Danny Trevathan, who will probably set the market at WILL LB, Zack Brown has range and can be very effective if kept clean.
texansOG Brandon Brooks   Age: 26    Position: RG   Est. Contract: 5yrs/$40M

In short order OL coach Mike Tice has taken the Raider's 16th ranked offensive line efficiency rating in 2014 to 6th in 2015. All the while, Tice's offensive line carried one of the least effective OGs in the NFL in J'Marcus Webb. Hence, Ravens OG/OT Kelechi Osemele has become a popular name among hopeful Raider fans who have even suggested signing Osemele as the LTotF (Left Tackle of the Future). However, that would be a tremendously risky move based on such a small sample of games where Osemele played acceptable at LT due to injuries.

In my opinion a much simpler option would be to go after Houston OG Brandon Brooks who unexpectedly made it to free agency and has extensive experience at RG.
bengalsS George Iloka   Age: 25   Position: SS   Est. Contract: 4yrs/$24M

There is often a lot of debate within Raider Nation about how much of the Ken Norton Jr's defense is a clone of Seattle's, in my opinion, a LOT of it. A couple of aspects of the Legion of Boom (the moniker of Seattle's secondary) that makes the defense so effective is their ability to consistently get a high level of of safety play from both positions and how their scouting department is ability to maximize value at CB.

Hence, I am abhorrently against using the Raider's first round pick on a CB. The Raider's scouting department needs to be able to find a Cover 3 CB either later in the draft or in free agency (spoiler alert). However, it is significantly harder to get high level safety production. Bengals S George Iloka is a prospect I really liked coming out but he definitely had to work on his craft to become the player he is. Iloka can adequately play both safety positions and he uses his length and range to change field dimensions. In my opinion, Iloka can be the Raider's Kam Chancellor-esque presence they desperately need in the secondary. Iloka will not be cheap and the Raiders, who place a premium on value, will have to overpay but the Raiders have gaping holes at both safety positions and must solidify those positions if they want to be competitive.
seahawksCB Jeremy Lane   Age: 25   Position: CB   Est. Contract: N/A

Lane has a down season after a promising start to his career. He began 2015 on the PuP List and was unable to get into a rhythm. One year removed for a horrific injury, Lane should be fully recovered and be able to participate in Training Camp. A prototypical Cover 3 CB, if Lane returns to form he could represent a huge return on the Raider's investment in him.
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