Jordan Gross would be a huge pickup for us. Gross is familiar with zone blocking and drive blocking so he will be comfortable with Cable or someone else. He is really a RT in the drive blocking scheme or LT in the Zone scheme.
The Raiders always make a splash or two in free agency. I believe right now that this will be the splash they make. The Panthers can’t keep both Gross and Peppers, which leaves Gross as the man out. The Panthers must at least franchise Peppers so they don’t lose him for nothing. Gross made $7.5 million last season and is a ProBowl player this season.
In that way they are a lot like us, only able to keep one of the two probowl players they have entering free agency. Plus they don’t have much flexibility under the cap to keep both, should they try.
We have just Gallery, Green and Henderson coming back out of the players who started on the line for the Raiders this season. Signing the 28 year-old LT, Gross should be a top priority. He also provides additional veteran leadership.
This will free up the Raiders #7 pick to use on a impact rookie at another position.
The other option would be to save money by drafting a lineman at #7. A wise thing to do with millions tied up in a QB and RB. Draft the best zone blocking lineman available in the draft. I believe this to be either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe. While I really like Oher, I just don’t believe he is going to be the next elite LT. I actually think he fits better at LG, a lot like Mr. Gallery and I don’t see him excelling in the zone blocking system. Monroe is said to be extremely smart if you put any stock into that kind of thing.
I also think Carlisle should be re-signed. He has been solid at RG. While 2007 was a better year for him than 2008, I still think he has been consistent enough to be brought back.
Grove may be brought back as well, but Wade is under contract so I am unsure if the Raiders will be willing to give him much. His injury history is a concern, but I think he is really starting to come into his own now that he has been able to stay on the field a bit more. The injuries may scare enough teams to be able to get him back at a discount. Gallery and Grove are good friends so he has a little more motivation to stay.
From left to right:
Gross, Gallery, Grove/Wade, Carlisle, Henderson
Smith/Monroe, Gallery, Grove/Wade, Carlisle, Henderson
Both these options provide a much more stable line for Russell to mature behind.
Henderson turned in a couple solid games and lets hope that can translate well at RT next season. There is no free agent talent at RT and Cornell Green really needs to take a reserve role next season. We can however, probably find a solid LT in Gross or the draft.
I wouldn’t count out the possibility of signing Gross and drafting Smith/Monroe at #7, although I think that has more logistical problems, such as what to do with Henderson and which side these guys play.