NFL rumors have been swirling around the Oakland Raiders for much of the past week. The franchise seems hellbent on being big spenders in free agency. Coming off of a very promising season, management feels that they are a couple of pieces away from competing for the Super Bowl. According to NFL.com, the Raiders are on the verge of signing former Kansas City Chiefs corner back Sean Smith to a $40 million contract.
Last season, the Oakland Raiders were ranked 26th in the NFL when it comes to stopping the pass. The team still managed to go 7-9 and came pretty close to making the playoffs. When the season ended, the Raiders knew that their top priority was to upgrade the defense. That would be the best way for them to surpass the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
The first step in the upgrade was luring Bruce Irvin away from the Seattle Seahawks. The versatile linebacker scored himself a $37 million contract. That’s more than what the Seahawks can afford because they have a ton of money tied up to the Legion of Boom (Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas). Irvin has a strong relationship with Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., so he should be able to provide Oakland with an immediate upgrade in pass rushing.
The signing of Bruce Irvin by the Oakland Raiders strikes fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators. The combination of Irvin and Khalil Mack should be one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. It’s scary to think what type of blitzing schemes that Ken Norton, Jr. and Jack Del Rio can come up with. If Aldon Smith is re-signed and in the right frame of mind, then the Raiders would have a trio of world class quarterback chasers.
After ensuring that the pass rush would become an asset, the Oakland Raiders set their sights on someone that can lock down wide receivers by himself. Their search led them to Sean Smith, who was the top corner back for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. The team wanted to keep Smith, but with the emergence of rookie Marcus Peters, the Chiefs felt that it would be best to spend their money on other positions, so Smith was allowed to leave.
A four-year deal worth $40 million is right for someone of the caliber of Sean Smith. Along with Janoris Jenkins, who signed a $62.5 million contract with the New York Giants, Smith was the best available corner back in free agency. The Carolina Panthers locked down Josh Norman, so he never reached free agency. Same thing with the Los Angeles Rams making sure that Trumaine Johnson was going to be with them for at least another season.
Signing Sean Smith also helps to fill a leadership void in the defensive backfield. Charles Woodson decided to retire after a long and illustrious career in the NFL. Though there’s no way for Smith to replace everything that Woodson provided to the Oakland Raiders, he can help alleviate the loss by leading on the field with his fantastic play. Oakland is also hoping that Smith might be able to mentor DJ Hayden, a first round pick who has been a disappointment thus far.
For Oakland Raiders fans, this off season has to feel like a tall glass of water. The franchise spent so many years mired in mediocrity. Now, they have a talented young core built around Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Khalil Mack. Management has added even more hope and hype by acquiring guys like Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin,and Kelechi Osemele. It’s a good time to be a Raiders fan.
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