Jake Grove has officially signed with the Fins. He will get $14.5 million guaranteed. $29 Million total over the five-year contract.
This was probably a bit more than the Raiders were willing to pay for Grove, who has missed the better part of his career with injuries so far. It is a bit surprising, because the Cable had spoken so highly of Grove at the combine and considering Gallery is one of his best friends. Remember the wise words of Tim Brown. A team never losses a free agent they want to keep. If we were willing to go this high on Grove, I think parts of Raider nation would have been upset, but if we wanted to keep him, I have no doubt we would have.
I think Grove finally elevated his play last season, but I don't blame the Raiders for not putting that kind of money into a severe injury concern. Who knows if Grove will be able to keep up this level of play next season. This is a risk the Dolphins could take. He is obviously talented, but with only two healthy seasons and one real productive one, it was calculated risk the Raiders weren't willing to take. At least not for $14.5 Million in guaranteed money.
That leaves Gallery, Henderson, McQuistan, Wade and Green on the Offensive Line.
Marvel Smith has been linked to the Raiders as well as Khalif Barnes. Barnes is a pile of crud at LT and Marvel Smith has major injury concerns, but is a good LT. Barnes may be capable at RT if we are comfortable with Henderson at LT or we make one of them a backup.
Carlisle may rejoin the team as well, having called off visits to other teams.
I could envision Marvel Smith being a great bargain as a solution to our LT problem. Obviously, teams need to see if he is healthy. The greatest concern of mine is still the offensive line, because without a decent one, running the ball and passing is much harder. With a stable of good runningbacks, a young QB, and a herd of young wide receivers, the line could end up being vitally important to our success or failure.
For the first time in a long time, I have no idea what the Raiders are going to do. I think we have been lucky is recent years to have a pretty good idea of what the Raiders were going to do in the draft and in free agency.
Interesting side story: Because NFL teams spent too little last season, the cap floor and ceiling have been increased this year. What is interesting to note about this, was that without the Hall, Walker, Kelly, Wilson deals, the Raiders would have been one of the teams underspending and therefore creating the huge cap this season.
Money would have been better spent perhaps locking up Asomugha last season and/or extending Morrison and Howard.
There are still plenty of holes on defense. Who will play safety? Are we standing pat with our DTs? Will we add a pass rushing DE? Is Ricky Brown the solution at SAM LB?
The Raider Nation Station Needs Index (as of 03/03/09):
1. OT - Last Week 1 (Green is still starting RT)
2. RG - LW 3 (Carlisle Shopping himself)
3. DE - LW 2 (Edwards Cut, Burgess in final year, Richarson lacks pass rushing skill)
4. DT - LW 4 (Sands, Warren, Kelly are an expensive trio, one will go)
5. C - LW 8 (Grove to Fins)
6. WR - LW 6 (Walker may stay, but this group still needs help)
7. SS - LW 7 (Wilson Cut)
8. OLB - LW 5 (Ricky Brown the solution?)
9. OL - LW 9 (Quality depth no the offensive line is important)
10. FS - LW 10 (Huff is still on the roster but for how long?)
Note: Last week's index wasn't published due to a error on my part. I have merged the comments as part of this week's index.