Raiders Must Sign Free Agents; Gallery Gone; CBA Extended; Sims-Walker a FA?

With the CBA coming oh so close to expiring, most are focusing on what this might mean long term (a possible lockout). Meanwhile, the Raiders have been smart enough to focus on what it means now.

If the sides allow this CBA to expire and no new CBA has been reached, all offseason activities except for the NFL draft will be put on hold. That means teams will no longer be able to re-sign their free agent players, nor will they be able to sign free agents from other teams. While this may not sound like a big deal, it has major implications for a team like the Raiders who have a large number of free agents and are attempting to build off of a strong season in 2010.

We cannot assume that any of the players who are not signed before the CBA expires will be on our team next year. We have no idea when free agency will occur or what kind of competition for these guys we will face. That is a major problem when you consider the fact that it would mean the Raiders would be forced to enter the NFL draft without knowing if they will need to replace their starting tight end, backup running back, starting safety, or starting cornerback.

In his list of the Top 10 AFC West free agents, ESPN blogger Bill Williamson dedicated half of the list to Oakland Raiders, including who he believes to be the top two free agents in the AFC West in Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller. With so much at stake in these free agents, it would be wise for the Raiders to diminish the unknown and lock some of these guys up now.

Knowing where the team stands with regards to at least a couple of these key positions before the draft would enable the Raiders brass to focus on actual needs for the team as opposed to potential needs. Additionally, if the Raiders take for granted that we can bring these players back, then fails to do so, we could end up with some major holes in our roster and few options to fill them.

While most have ...

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