The Oakland Raiders went two-for-three in the NFL’s opening day of free agency. But the two hits were home runs as the Raiders inked long-term deals with linebacker Bruce Irvin and offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele on Wednesday.
The Napa Valley Register is reporting that signing Irvin and Osemele could cost the Raiders nearly $100 million if both play out their contracts. Irvin’s four-year deal is reportedly worth $37 million — Irvin will earn $12.5 million in year one — while Osemele inked a five-year pact which was valued at $60 million.
Irvin, a pass rushing specialist, comes to Oakland after spending the pass four seasons in Seattle. The 28-year old has 22 career sacks, which includes 5 1/2 last season. The former first round selection is also a strong run stopper can help in pass coverage as well.
Oakland did miss out on former Denver Bronco Malik Jackson as he chose the Jacksonville Jaguars and their six-year, $90 million offer with around$40 million being guaranteed. The deal makes him the NFL’s fourth highest-paid defensive lineman — fifth highest defensive player overall — based on annual average over the first three, four and five years of a long-term deal, per USA Today Sports.
Note: Oakland also lost backup offensive lineman Tony Bergstram, who decided to leave for the Houston Texans. The Raiders have 10 unrestricted free agents on the market.
The Raiders are likely far from done spending this offseason and reportedly have turned their attention to Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith. The 28-year old recorded 45 tackles, 12 pass deflections and two interceptions as he missed the first three weeks due to a suspension for DUI. Oakland does have competition for the eight-year veteran as he has reportedly narrowed his choices down to the Raiders, San Francisco and the Chiefs.
Jackson, who is ranked as the second best free agent available according to Pro Football Focus, is expected to collect a huge payday as several suitors are expected to bid for his services. The 26-year-old appeared in all 16 games for a third consecutive season, recording 5.5 sacks and 45 tackles last year for the Broncos. Jackson was also credited with seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and one safety.
Jackson, a fifth round selection of 2012, has played well at three positions — 4-3 defensive tackle, 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 five-technique end – over the past three seasons. He has an excellent ability to get to the quarterback, as he registered 22 quarterback hits and 21 hurries. The four-year veteran has totaled 134 tackles and 14 sacks in his career.
The Broncos are trying to retain the 6-foot-4, 284-pound defensive end as they have offered slightly less than $11 million annually, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Renck added that Jackson is seeking nearly $14 million per year.
If Jackson does receive near the $14 million he is seeking, he would be the second highest paid interior defensive player behind Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt. This is quite possible, as 9News is reporting that the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears are also interested in Jackson.
Jacksonville has the ability to offer Jackson the most money as the Jags have a NFL-high $82.24 million of spending room to offer free agents this summer. Oakland has the third most available cap room with over $60 million and Chicago is seventh with a tad under $47 million. Denver has about $9 million available as the Broncos inked defensive end Derek Wolfe to a four-year, $36.7 million pact before this past postseason run.
Denver also has several other key free agents with the linebacker Von Miller and quarterback Brock Osweiler being the big ticket players. The Broncos other free agents include Danny Trevathan, Evan Mathis, Ryan Harris, Ronnie Hillman, David Bruton Jr., Jordan Norwood, Antonio Smith, and Bubba Caldwell.
Jackson may be interested in the Raiders and Bears due to his familiarity with Oakland’s head coach, Jack Del Rio, and Chicago’s head coach, John Fox. Fox was the Broncos head coach while Del Rio was the team’s defensive coordinator during the Jackson’s first three years in Denver.
Oakland is also reportedly very interested in Osemele as Fox Sports‘ Mike Garafolo tweeted that the Raiders were the favorites in obtaining the 6-foot-5, 333-pound free agent.
Raiders making strong push for OL Kelechi Osemele. I'd call them the favorites. As I tweeted earlier, it'll be for more than $10m per year.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 8, 2016
Not so fast, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, as the Minnesota Vikings are also pursuing Osemele.
Osemele is very versatile, as he can play both guard positions as well as left tackle. The 26-year-old has played each of his first four years with the Baltimore Ravens, starting in each of his 51 appearances (including 14 last year). He started the season at guard before shifting to left tackle, grading out as the 18th best tackle by Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens are still interested in having Osemele return, but their decision to move him to left tackle could hamper their chances (as left tackle is the most lucrative position on offensive line).
Oakland could be in need of a left tackle, as it appears that last year’s starter, Donald Penn, will hit the open market as the negotiations between Penn and the Raiders have hit a stalemate. The 32-year-old Penn has started every game the last eight years and was rated as the 10th best tackle by PFF. He made $5.4 million last year and is expected to get a considerable hike in pay, as Sportrac has estimated his value to be $7.1 million on the open market.
Update: Getlin just tweeted (today) that the Raiders have an agreement in principle with Osemele.
When the market opens tomorrow, Kelechi Osemele will become the newest member of the #Raiders. The two sides have an agreement in principle.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 8, 2016
The Raiders won three-of-their-last six to finish with a 7-9 record – which is their most wins since 2011. Oakland ranked in the bottom half of the league in most offensive and defensive categories though they did finish 13th in rushing yards allowed per game (104.9).
[AP Photo/Matt York]