Why the Raiders free agency strategy was so smart

At the time of this writing, the Oakland Raiders have not signed any defensive players in free agency. This despite the fact that the defense was a fairly big issue for the team at times in 2016. But while they have been quiet on the defensive front, the Raiders have solidified offensive line depth, added a returner/wide receiver and made a big upgrade at tight end.

And while it’s understandable that fans are anxious about the defense, the moves made by the Raiders are really smart for one reason: Derek Carr.

We all know Carr is the future of this franchise and because of the talent he’s already shown, it’s easy to forget that he’s still developing as an NFL quarterback. Though Carr carries himself like a seasoned veteran, he’s only been in the league for three years now. Nurturing that development and continuing to build around Carr is investing in your most important investment.

The last thing the Raiders want to do is be like the Colts with Peyton Manning. Despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league, they only managed one Super Bowl win. There will be different opinions on that but I believe they asked Peyton to do too much without giving him the weapons to accomplish it.

The Raiders are going in the opposite direction and doing everything they can to invest in their franchise quarterback. It would be easy to rest on your laurels with the WR duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. But McKenzie recognized that the Raiders had an ongoing need to upgrade at tight end as well as at least provide competition for the number three receiver position.

Derek Carr was already in the conversation for the MVP award in 2016 and he will have an even better shot at it next season. Defenses are going to have a very difficult time trying to figure out how to cover all of the weapons Oakland has. On any given play, Carr could target Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jared Cook or Jalen Richard. Those are five targets capable of making big plays against the opposing defense. Combine that with an elite pass blocking offensive line and Carr is going to pick defenses apart this season.

The defense needs to be upgraded and will get a lot of talent in the upcoming draft but given the importance of the quarterback position, it’s hard to argue against investing in Derek Carr in every way you can.

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