Raiders waste no time adding to O-line

The Raiders haven’t yet made a real free agent splash, though they have added the heft for a nice cannonball.

Tackle Austin Howard (6-foot-7, 333 lbs), who spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets, reached a five year agreement with Oakland worth $30 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

And tackle Roger Saffold, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, landed a five-year deal from the Raiders worth as much as $42.5 million.

The moves come as tackle Jared Veldheer leaves the Raiders as a free agent, signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

They’re not sexy, glamorous or even noticed, but offensive linemen are necessary for a good offense. Especially when you’ll be facing all four NFC West teams in 2014.

Howard worked his way from the practice squad to the lucrative deal, showing traits all general managers covet. His resume shows nothing less than unquestionable work ethic, and has youth in his corner also.

Turning 27 later in the month, the free agent signings for the Raiders have been full of youth — unlike new members of the Cleveland Browns.

Saffold, who will turn 26 in June, coupled with Howard and 2013 draft choice Menelik Watson, are building blocks for the franchise’s future. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has been adamant that he’d like to build around the quarterback position, not from it.

He’s kept his promise.

The Raiders have needs at cornerback, defensive tackle, defensive end, and really all over the defense. They also could sign a quarterback in the coming days, arguably the team’s biggest need.

Michael Vick has been rumored a top pick, though there’s enough reason to believe that Josh McCown, Josh Freeman — even Matt Schaub — could be considered.

McKenzie opened the off-season, declaring to reporters his intent to sign a veteran quarterback. Though none of the names are as glamorous as Peyton Manning was in 2012, they’re what he has to work with. And he’s kept his word thus far. No reason to believe he’ll deviate.


Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.