Raiders' needs in free agency

March 13, 2012, 9:48 pm
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The NFL's free-agent frenzy has begun and the Raiders, as expected, have been silent early on.It's as much about new general manager Reggie McKenzie's wait-and-see mantra as it is the Raiders' fiscal responsibility. But that does not take away the Raiders' needs in the free-agent market. A look, then, at the five most pressing positional needs the Raiders can address in free agency
Cornerback: Having cut both Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, and having lost Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency last summer, the Raiders are without any of their starting corners from the previous two seasons. And the only two pure cornerbacks on the roster are rising second-year players Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke. The Raiders need a veteran at CB. Might the Raiders make a run at Tracy Porter, who played for Dennis Allen in New Orleans?Linebacker: Retaining Aaron Curry was key but it appears as though the Raiders are about to change the locks on Kamerion Wimbley unless, of course, he agrees to a paycut. Sans Wimbley, Oakland only has Curry, Rolando McClain and Travis Goethel under contract as linebackers. Whether the Raiders stay in a 4-3 defense or opt for the 3-4 would determine where they look. E.J. Henderson seems a fit. London Fletcher would offer leadership and a role model for McClain.Backup quarterback: This is Carson Palmer's team, Jason Campbell is reportedly in conversations with Chicago, Kyle Boller's time has run its course and Terrelle Pryor does not seem ready. So where do the Raiders turn for a competent backup? How about a guy the Raiders passed on in 2006, a guy who once backed up and succeeded Palmer with aplomb in college? New offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is familiar with Matt Leinart, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.Running back: In a perfect Silver and Black world, Michael Bush returns to back up the perpetually injured Darren McFadden. But Bush, who was visiting Arizona on Tuesday, is most likely gone. And the slight but speedy Taiwan Jones is not ready. The Raiders need depth, but also need to feel comfortable enough in a backup to ride him as an everydown back ifwhen McFadden goes down. Cedric Benson, anyone?Defensive lineman: Yes, so much depends upon what the Raiders do scheme-wise -- if they do use a lot of 3-4, they need a solid nose tackle. John Henderson is purportedly on the chopping block and he might have too much tread to be an everydown NT. Plus, Oakland would need a pass-rushing end should it part ways with Wimbley, who does just that in passing downs. Aubrayo Franklin would be an enviable, albeit expensive solution.