The Oakland Raiders have four exclusive rights free agents this year. We’ve already talked about Seth Roberts in a separate piece due to the fact that he played a much bigger role on the team than the rest of these guys. But despite their smaller roles, they are all players that the team should bring back as investments in the future.
The remaining exclusive rights free agents are: Denver Kirkland, Gabe Holmes and SaQwan Edwards.
Of these, Kirkland is clearly the most important. After Lee Smith went down with an injury, the Raiders turned to Kirkland as an extra blocker and it helped get the run game going strong. Kirkland is a guy who might be better fit to play guard than tackle, but either way he is a project. But after how well he played as a sixth lineman last year, he’s a project the Raiders would be wise to continue working on. He may never be a starter but he could prove to be very valuable depth. And who knows, maybe he will develop into a starter.
Next is Gabe Holmes. A tight end who is above average as both a pass catcher and as a blocker, but not really good at either. Yet. This is a kid with a ton of potential to be a very good all around tight end, which the Raiders have been looking for. He’s not there yet and it might take a while for him to get there, if he does, but he’s an investment worth keeping. At the very least, he looks capable of being a solid backup tight end.
Edwards has not played a whole lot and hasn’t looked all that good when he did. But in training camp and the preseason, he showed flashes of a guy with potential. To be honest, I wouldn’t be upset at all if the Raiders walked away from Edwards. But as an ERFA, they can sign him cheap then part ways with him or stash him on the practice squad if they are able to sufficiently bolster the cornerback depth this offseason.
None of these guys are “make or break” players but they are guys with potential who might be able to help in the future. When running a team, it’s being smart about guys like this that can help ensure consistency and longevity when it comes to the success of a franchise. You always have to be thinking about the future and trying to ensure you are prepared and one way to do that is by developing young talent over a period of years.
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