New Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has shown in his short time in the position that he likes to put veterans on one-year “prove-it” deals. While this leads to finding some talented players on the cheap, it also means that any players acquired aren’t committed to the team long term. The Raiders picked up a few players on “prove it” deals that could have a big impact for the team. If these players have a real impact for the Raiders, they could see themselves getting a nice payday at season’s end.
Not only do the Raiders have a few players on “prove it” deals, but they also have some veterans of the team entering the final year of their contracts. Jon Gruden and Mayock will have some big decisions to make next offseason, so who can we expect will be the players that end up getting deals after the season?
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What’s left to say about the consistently excellent starting center for the Raiders, Rodney Hudson? He’s been a pillar of consistency since the Raiders signed him away from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015. When the Raiders signed Hudson, they made him the highest paid center in NFL history and that decision has worked in the Raiders’ favor as he’s consistently been rated the best pass-blocking center in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Hudson will be 30 by the time the season starts. Considering offensive lineman typically have a longer shelf life than running backs, Hudson could easily have another five years of dominance left in the tank.
Hudson has made a couple of pro bowls during his career, but surprisingly he’s never made an all-pro team. While this might seem ridiculous, it helps the Raiders because this may undervalue Hudson in the open market. Hudson likely won’t get the same monster contract he got back in 2015, but Mayock should reward the center for his excellence with a multi-year contract when the season ends.
Fourth-year safety Karl Joseph hasn’t shown the consistency that Hudson has during his time in silver and black, but he established himself as one of the top players on the Raider defense in 2018. Pro Football Focus actually rated him the best Raider defender last season. Now, that comes with an asterisk because the Raiders defense was terrible a season ago, but if Joseph can show improvement in 2019, he’s deserving of a contract.
The Raiders could’ve picked up Joseph’s fifth-year option to ensure that he stayed with the team an extra year, but the team decided to roll the dice and see what happens. It’s risky because if Joseph blows up and play great, he’s going to cost a pretty penny. On the other hand, if he flops and doesn’t live up to expectations, the team can let him walk and not lose out on any money. Joseph seems to have the tools to bring it all together and the defense has seen an influx of talent this offseason. If Joseph can show why the Raiders drafted him in the first round a few years back, then he might be getting that contract after all.
Vontaze Burfict is one of the veterans brought in that’s on a one year “prove it” deal. While Burfict doesn’t need to prove he can play football at a high level, he needs to prove that he can stay out of trouble. He has long been considered a “dirty player” and has seen several suspension and fines in his days. It’s frustrating because Burfict is an all-pro talent when he’s on the field. The Cincinnati Bengals let him walk because they were tired of the headache, but this gave Burfict the opportunity to reunite with his former coach, Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Burfict saw his best years while playing under Guenther, so if he stays out of trouble, he could very well solidify a spot at linebacker. The Raiders have struggled to find consistency at linebacker so if Burfict makes it through the season without making any negative headlines, there will definitely be interest in bringing him back for a couple more years.
The name Darren Waller won’t be one that many will be familiar with, but it’s possible more people will be once the season is over. With the departure of tight end, Jared Cook to the New Orleans Saints, the Raiders have a void at the tight end position. During this offseason’s OTAs, Waller has been making the case that he should be the one to fill that void. Waller hasn’t done much during games to prove that he’s worthy of a contract beyond 2019, but he’ll have ample opportunity to show that he’s worth the money this season.
Bradon Marshall isn’t a huge name at linebacker, but he was consistently solid for the Denver Broncos during his time there. The Raiders defense needed a lot after last year’s debacle and Marshall is the kind of solid addition that will help the unit see improvement. Marshall likely won’t blow people away, but he could bring stability to the linebacking corps and that could make him worth a multi-year contract.