The Oakland Raiders lost Nnamdi Asomugha first, and that hurt the most. Picture the 49ers across The Bay losing Patrick Willis, it's about comparable to that. Willis and Asomugha are at the top of the league at their respective positions, and nothing the Silver & Black can do will fill the void left by the shutdown corner, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly is paying him $60 million over a period of five years, with $25 million of that money guaranteed. This is money that the Raiders couldn't pay him, and even if they could, it would probably have taken more to keep him in Oakland, as opposed to a team more on the cusp of a Super Bowl run like Philadelphia.
They also lost Zach Miller, the oft-overlooked tight end who was unquestionably Oakland's best offensive player. Miller has never broken 1000 yards receiving, but with the guys throwing the ball for the Raiders the last couple of seasons, he'd had to be ... well, one of the best in the league. He's good, but he's not that good. Either way, he's totaled above 800 yards before, and is as sure-handed as they come. Losing Miller was not a necessary happening, even though the Seattle Seahawks probably overpaid for him, Oakland could have paid him just as much.
But that's the crux of the belief that the Raiders have had a terrible offseason: losing Asomugha and Miller. A colleague of mine over at Niners Nation tweeted that they had the fifth-worst offseason so far in the NFL. While I respect his opinion greatly, I adamantly disagree. You can check out my Twitter here and read all of the arguments there if you'd like, but I'm going to present them here as well, so on to that.
The Raiders did retain some solid players, locking them up for the near and in some cases, distant future. Oakland finished 8-8 last season, and the team falling apart is not something they need right now. Did they keep enough pieces in place? Probably. Some of the solid deals ...
Re-signing Kamerion Wimbley and locking him up for five years. Wimbley was designated as the team's franchise player, and they reached a five-year, $48 million contract with $29 million in guaranteed dollars. That's too many guaranteed dollars, but Wimbley has been looking really good of late. He came on strong last season and he solidifies a quietly solid group of linebackers. He'll get sacks, he'll cover, he'll do everything asked of him and do it well. Wimbley probably would have been a big target in free agency had the Raiders not put the franchise tag on him.
Before the lockout, the team also got defensive lineman Richard Seymour inked to a two-year deal, worth $30 million. Seymour is an impact player if there ever was one, and probably won't begin seriously slowing down for another couple of seasons. Again, it's a lot of money, but offenses gameplan for Seymour week in and week out. The same goes for corner Stanford Routt, who inked a deal recently for five years. Will Routt be a good replacement for Asomugha? It's almost sacrilege to consider it, he won't reach the levels that Asomugha could, but Routt is a legitimate number one corner and the Raiders did a very good thing by keeping him.
That's three very strong starters on defense. The team retained Michael Huff, though they definitely overpaid him, as he'll make $16 million in 2011. But Huff is an above-average player who brings a lot to any defense, and he'll never have his starting spot in question. Bringing back Samson Satele was a surprise, but it's a big deal if they can move him to one of the guard positions, providing Stefan Wisniewski is ready to play center. Satele is coming off the best season of his career, and if they can get him and Wiz on the field at the same time, consider it a great signing.
They also replaced Miller with Kevin Boss, who is a step down, but still a starting-caliber tight end. Boss has good hands and will be a big part of Oakland's offense, receiving and blocking. Boss was sought after by more than a couple teams, so bringing him in at the price they did is definitely a good deal for the Raiders.
Seymour, Huff, Routt, Satele, Boss, and Wimbley, and yet the team had one of the five worst offseasons? The problem with the term is that it implies the team did something to make it happen, made bad signings, or was simply inactive. They were entering an offseason in which few believed there would be any chance to retain their best offensive and defensive player, and lo and behold, they weren't able to. Does that make it a terrible offseason for their part? No, it really doesn't ... and keeping those solid players, along with bringing in Boss and drafting Wisniewski in the second ...?
Looks a helluva lot better than any of us thought it would. Of course, there's the small matter of their coaching hire. We'll see how that works out.