Grading each Raiders free agent signing so far

The Oakland Raiders have been relatively quiet in free agency with the clear intent to focus on the draft over free agency moving forward. But even though the Raiders weren’t big players in free agency like in 2015 and 2016, they still added some talent to the roster with four new players.

But how good were those additions?

Let’s take a look at the newest Raiders, one by one:

Marshall Newhouse

Not all of the details on Newhouse’s contract have been revealed but we know the basics: two years, $3.5 million. For a backup with lots of starting experience and the ability to play basically anywhere but center, that’s a very good value for the Raiders. Newhouse is a step down from the depth he’s replacing in terms of talent, but the fact that he stays healthy and is actually able to play makes him more valuable than Menelik Watson in a lot of ways. It’s not a flashy or exciting signing but adding depth is always smart.

Grade: B 

Cordarrelle Patterson

This was a somewhat risky signing for the Raiders. Patterson’s two year deal has $5 million guaranteed and gives Patterson the option to opt out of the second year if he has a big 2017 season. It’s somewhat of a catch-22 for Oakland. $5 million is way too much for just a kick returner but if the Raiders are able to develop Patterson like they hope, his contract value makes more sense but then he’d be able to leave Oakland for more money elsewhere. But at the end of the day, it’s a short contract that shouldn’t hurt the Raiders and it adds another dimension to the offense while also adding an All Pro kick returner. And as I’ve said, I can’t ever find fault in the decision to invest in Derek Carr by adding offensive talent.

Grade: B

Jared Cook

The Raiders have been looking for a tight end they can rely on for years. After Clive Walford had his ATV accident, he never really looked the same. Hopefully he can still recover and get his career on track but in the meantime, McKenzie didn’t want to make Derek Carr wait any longer before giving him a complete offense to work with. In Cook, the Raiders get a great weapon who can block and who adds versatility and flexibility to the offensive game plan because he can lineup at wide receiver all over the field. Cook signed a two year deal with only $5 million in guarantees but with a $5.3 million yearly average. This is a deal that seems to be better for the Raiders than Cook. The yearly average is about right for his talent but the guarantees are low and the Raiders can cut him next season without a cap hit.

Grade: A

Jelani Jenkins

As I noted earlier, this is a very boom or bust move by the Raiders. Jenkins is a guy who has a ton of athleticism and when he uses it right, can be a very good linebacker. He proved as much in his second season in the NFL. The problem is, injuries and inconsistent play have resulted in four year career with very mixed results. He basically has one very good year, one solid year and two bad years. If he can stay healthy and continue to develop, he could be a nice get for the Raiders. But that’s a very big if. Hopefully he ends up being depth rather than a starter. In which case, he becomes a nice signing. The problem is, linebacker is a big time need for Oakland and Jenkins is a rather lackluster attempt to fill that need. On the bright side, his contract is cheap at one year $1 million with only 100 thousand in guaranteed money.

Grade: C

E.J. Manuel

Most assumed that Connor cook would be the backup for Derek Carr in 2017 but with the signing of E.J. Manuel, he now has some competition. I think it’s likely that Cook wins the job but giving him competition will only bring good results. Cook has talent but also has a long way to go in his development. Bringing in Manuel will push him to keep working and will give the Raiders a better quality backup quarterback regardless of who wins the competition. And then there’s the contract. One year, $800,000 with no guaranteed money and this is an easy, no brainer deal for the Raiders.

Grade: A

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