Raiders Re-Sign or Realign: Oakland must keep the special teams core

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio watches from the sideline during the NFL AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans on January 7, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

The Oakland Raiders had one of the best special teams units in the entire league last season and it played a major role in the 12-4 record accumulated by the team. So with three key members of that special teams unit set to hit free agency this year, I figured it made more sense to do the group as a whole rather than as individuals. Because unlike other special teams contributors (like Andre Holmes and Nate Allen) these guys are ONLY special teams players who don’t add much in terms of depth.

But despite the fact that Darren Bates, Jon Condo and Brynden Trawick are mostly just special teams players, they represent a very important part of this Raiders team and need to be brought back.

First off, it is well worth noting that in a pinch, Trawick was used as a safety late last season, not just on special teams. He played fairly well all things considered but for the most part is still considered a special teams player only as he is rather buried on the depth charts behind the likes of Karl Joseph, Nate Allen and Reggie Nelson. Still though, his performance added even more value to a guy who was already seen as a key contributor.

Jon Condo is a no brainer. The long snapper has been with the Raiders since 2006 and has made two Pro Bowls in that time. Long snapper is one of the least glorified but most important positions on the team. Everyone takes their long snapper for granted until he gets hurt. But once he does, everyone realizes quickly how important he is. Condo is a guy who I’d expect to retire while wearing Silver and Black.

The only question of the three is Darren Bates. While he was a key special teams contributor, he doesn’t play a specialized position like Condo and isn’t seen as adding much backup depth like Trawick. Plus, he just isn’t as good on special teams as Trawick. But all that being said, he was still a big part of a great special teams unit. And his lack of value outside of being a special teamer limits his value on the free agent market. Re-signing Bates would be cheap and for that reason, another easy decision.

Re-signing all three of these guys might come cheaper than the first year of Derek Carr’s new contract (whenever that gets signed). They are key role players who won’t break the bank and bringing them back seems like an easy and obvious decision.

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james arcellana

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