Raiders have other needs, but repairing the offensive line is by far the biggest. Jared Gaither comes with considerable risk/reward.
Gaither spent time with Hue Jackson and Al Saunders. The two coaches know what kind of player Gaither is when he is healthy. He just hasn’t been healthy.
There are basically three qualities every free agent will be judged upon: age, skill level, and injury risk/history.
When it comes free agents, most come with deficiencies in one area. Even Nnamdi Asomugha could be said to have one.
Teams will compare these deficiencies against their peers and needs and determine their value as a free agent.
For the most part you can break down all but the top free agents like this:
1. Young, good, injury prone
2. Young, average, healthy
3. Old, good, injury prone
4. Old, average, healthy
5. All players less than average.
That’s about all that is available when it comes to players in free agency. Sure, there are exceptions. The top free agents usually don’t fall into these categories.
When it comes down to comparing these players, a young, good, injury prone player stacks up pretty well against the other options.
Gaither is still only 25 and he’s been productive at left tackle when he has played. It’s one of the toughest positions in the NFL.
Gaither shouldn’t be paid like a top left tackle, but NFL average for the position would be more than fair considering the upside you get with Gaither.
If Gaither has put his injuries behind him, you have a potential franchise left tackle.
Gaither also knows the blocking scheme Hue Jackson and Al Saunders will deploy. He would give himself and the offensive line a boost just by having that familiarity.
There is more than enough reward in Gaither and the Raiders need it along the offensive line.