Raiders in a holding pattern with tackle Donald Penn
The first day of free agency has come and gone for 2016.
The Raiders didn’t do much, though, and have yet to formally announce their deals with guard Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Bruce Irvin. It appears that Oakland is in a holding pattern, waiting patiently for deals to get done with left tackle Donald Penn and cornerback Sean Smith.
Irvin, formerly a member of the Seahawks, will join Malcolm Smith in the Raiders linebacker corps, though that is the only certainty as linebacker Curtis Lofton remains a likely cap casualty as the shopping continues.
Players are often released prior to the new league year, but the Raiders have so much cap room, they can wait until signing his replacement. A similar story applied to defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who Oakland released three weeks into free agency in 2015.
The top option to fill in at middle linebacker figures to be Jerrell Freeman after Danny Trevathan was signed by Chicago earlier Wednesday, which could be a good thing — Freeman won’t be as expensive, and is coming off a renaissance season.
Perhaps the biggest area of intrigue for the Raiders is the situation the team finds itself in with Penn, who the team could have used the transition tag on to protect themselves from losing an important part of their roster.
Penn and the Raiders are in a holding pattern until the top two left tackles on the market — Kelvin Beachum and Russell Okung — sign deals, according to a source.
That puts Oakland in a precarious situation, though, because Penn and his agent will have an increased level of power with no truly legitimate fallback options.
That’s not to say that ill intentions are present, but the Raiders haven’t had excellent luck when it comes to managing offensive linemen over the past couple of seasons.
There are two alternatives still, trading with the Cleveland Browns for Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, or hoping that the Baltimore Ravens cut tackle Eugene Monroe.
Both of those come with risk, not to mention compensation.
Monroe has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons, and though he is as good as it gets when he is on, the risk is significant. Thomas, though, has been as consistent as Donald Trump’s narcissism, and is three years younger than Penn.
The Raiders are expected to formally announce the deals for Irvin and Osemele Thursday, and it feels as though another announcement or two will come with it.
But it might take until April to have a solid idea of what the Raiders offseason goals truly were.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.