The official 2012 league year begins on March 13 when free agency officially opens. Before the 13th, team can attempt to re-sign their own players, but when that day comes unsigned players can look for better deals elsewhere. The Oakland Raiders no doubt have a handful of their own players that they would like to re-sign to help them build off an 8-8 record in 2011.
Pro Football Weekly recently compiled their top 100 free agents, and on that list, there are three Raiders.
The first potential former Raider on the list is running back Michael Bush, who comes in at No. 25.
A physical inside runner, Bush has been a capable fill-in for, and complement to, Darren McFadden in Oakland. However, Bush lacks breakaway speed. With McFadden's durability a concern, re-signing Bush would make sense for Oakland. But will Bush be offered a starting job elsewhere? With the franchise tag potentially thinning the UFA RB ranks, Bush could do quite well in free agency.
The next is safety Tyvon Branch, who the Raiders used their franchise tag on, coming in at No. 41.
Branch is the Raiders' top priority among their free agents, and he was informed by the team he will be franchised. He has recorded more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons, and he is also solid vs. the pass.
The final player on PFW's list is quarterback Jason Campbell, who was replaced in 2011 by Carson Palmer and comes in at No. 76.
With the Raiders making a major commitment to Carson Palmer, Campbell could sign elsewhere. He was having a solid season before suffering a broken Collar Bone in October, leading then-head coach Hue Jackson to trade for Palmer. Campbell has thrown more touchdown passes than interceptions in all six NFL seasons in which he has played.
With a new franchise quarterback and new head coach, the Raiders have a shot at competing for the AFC West title in 2012.
For more on the Raiders, head to Silver And Black Pride.