Why the Raiders seem to be ignoring defense in free agency

The Oakland Raiders have signed two offensive players in free agency, Marshall Newhouse and Cordarrelle Patterson. And now that they have added a wide receiver and an offensive tackle, they are turning their attention to the tight end position with reports that they will be hosting Jared Cook if he doesn’t sign with the Minnesota Vikings.

So why are the Raiders spending so much time in free agency focused on the offense when it’s the defense that needs so much help? A lot of Raiders fans are probably having deja vu after seeing Jack Del Rio part ways with Bill Musgrave while keeping Ken Norton, Jr.

The Raiders defense was one of the worst in the league last year and yet all of free agency so far has been focused on the offense. So why is that?

Part of it could easily just be circumstance. Perhaps the Raiders and Reggie McKnezie have had their sights set on a number of free agent defensive players but were unable to land any. Because while McKenzie is not afraid to jump into the free agency pool, he isn’t going to overpay.

I think it’s pretty likely this is exactly what has happened. Free agent contracts were once again crazy high this year and getting a big name defender would have been very difficult and costly to do. I also think it’s pretty likely that McKenzie will sign at least one defensive player who could push for a starting job in free agency.

But part of it could also be intentional. Especially after it became clear that they weren’t going to be able to sign any big name defensive players.

This year’s defensive draft class is one of the best in years. A well planned and well executed draft could easily land a team like the Raiders three starters on defense. I could very easily see the case being that McKenzie’s plan was to address some defensive needs in free agency, but after surveying the field, he made an audible.

Perhaps with defense looking like it might be too expensive, McKenzie did the next best thing. He’s addressing offensive needs in free agency so he can focus on defense once the draft rolls around.

The Raiders already had a very good offense in 2016 so it’s not like there was a ton of work that needed to be done. They’ve addressed depth concerns on the offensive created after Menelik Watson left and brought in competition for Seth Roberts at the number three wide receiver spot. And if they add a tight end, the only real hole they would need to address is a short yardage back, but that can be found rather easily in the late rounds of the draft.

With offense all but good to go, the Raiders will be able to focus their attention solely on defense for the first three to four rounds of the draft where there are a ton of players who can come in and make an impact on day one.

It may not have been plan A for the Raiders to attack offense so much in free agency, but if it wasn’t that’s likely because of a smart move by McKenzie to adjust his game plan after seeing how the free agency period was shaping up.

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