While the Oakland Raiders have shown no issue spending in free agency thus far, their pursuit of Le’Veon Bell has been a hot-button topic. But after striking a deal to acquire Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, they added a nice chunk of additional money to his deal. From there, the Raiders gave a record-breaking contract to offensive tackle Trent Brown and paid out a nice deal to safety Lamarcus Joyner.
As far as Brown’s deal goes, it included a pay bump of from $38.925 million over the next three years up to $50.125 million, per Pro Football Talk. But going beyond that, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown can earn an additional $4 million in incentives and was given $30.125 million in new guaranteed money.
As Adam Schefter then reported, the four-year, $66 million deal with $36.75 million guaranteed Trent Brown received sets a new mark for offensive linemen. Finally, Joyner received a nice $42 million deal over four years with $16.7 million in guarantees, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The Raiders have had shown no interest in holding back on forking over money to top talent, which was somewhat expected. But apparently, it’s led to a potential issue moving forward, and could make addressing one or two other key positions tough.
Raiders Linked to Le’Veon Bell, Putting Money Issue Aside
In one of the more interesting early bits of news from NFL free agency, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Raiders may not have enough actual money to sign Le’Veon Bell. As NFL reporter Dov Kleiman cited, this isn’t a salary cap issue, but instead has to do with a real cash flow problem.
Roughly a day after that report, it came to light the total amount of guaranteed money the Raiders have spent thus far, which was certainly eye-opening.
The cash flow situation stands out for a number of reasons, but specifically because the Raiders have a major need at running back. Both Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are free agents and on the wrong side of 30 while Jalen Richard is a restricted free agent.
But even with those concerns, it seems the Raiders are still staying strong in their pursuit of Bell. With the expectation they will continue making a real run to sign him, it would make sense to have a backup plan if they’re unable to land the All-Pro.
Raiders Potential Trade for Bears RB Jordan Howard
The Chicago Bears have shown a willingness to move running back Jordan Howard and were approached about it by “multiple teams” at the combine, per Schefter.
It’s an interesting situation, and while Howard has just one year remaining on his rookie deal, it comes with a salary cap hit of slightly more than $2.087 million, per Spotrac. The cap number would give the Raiders a season to find their long-term answer at the position without breaking the bank. It could also provide the team a chance to evaluate if Howard could be in their future plans.
Howard topped 1,110 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Bears and over three seasons has totaled 3,370 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. The 6-foot, 224-pound running back has also shown potential as a pass-catcher, hauling in 72 passes in 47 games for 568 yards and one score.
The Raiders have eight draft picks this year, and it would likely cost somewhere around a mid-round selection to bring Howard to town. If Oakland is indeed cash strapped, acquiring the 24-year-old would make sense and help round out a rapidly-improving offense. Or for that matter, if they’re unable to land Bell in free agency, the team could do far worse than acquiring Howard via trade.