The Raiders didn’t spend their first agreement of free agency on a big-ticket player, instead opting for a ceremonial deal with left tackle Donald Penn.
Penn signed a one-day contract so he could retire a Raider at the behest of owner Mark Davis, and you could make the argument the 37-year-old lineman is one of the better moves under coach Jon Gruden in his second phase even if though he’ll never play in a game. Penn played for the Raiders from 2014 through 2018, making two Pro Bowls, after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I had a great run. I loved Tampa, but I grew up a Raider fan,” Penn said in a teleconference. “I was able to play with a team I grew up with and it was like a dream come true.”
The Raiders’ tepid entry into the negotiating market doesn’t mean they won’t spend some of their nearly $40 million in cap space at some point soon. Last year, for instance, the Raiders agreed to terms with only linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski on the first day. The second day brought a flurry of activity with linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, safety Jeff Heath and defensive end Carl Nassib.
Of those four, only Heath contributed anything close to the value of his contract.
Some impressions on Monday’s opening free agency flurry and how it relates to the Raiders:
— In need of a pass rusher, the Raiders stayed on the sidelines as four players quickly went off the market. Edge rusher Shaq Barrett (four years, $72 million) remained with Tampa Bay and Romeo Okwara (three years, $39 million) stayed with Detroit. Markus Golden (two years, $9 million) stayed in Arizona while Matthew Judon (four years, $56 million) cashed in with New England.
Of those four, Okwara was closest to a scheme fit.
— Guard Kyle Long, son of Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, was scheduled to visit Las Vegas Monday. Long, 32, sat out 2020 after being hampered by several physical issues for four seasons. He was a Pro Bowl performer in three consecutive years from 2013-2015 after being a first-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears.
“The fan base is great, his dad played here and they need some help at guard,” Penn said. “Taking that time off, I really think he got his body together. I think it would be a great fit.”
The Raiders as of yet have still made no move with Gabe Jackson, due $9.6 million in salary. Jackson reportedly has been told of his release but can’t negotiate with other teams until that happens. It’s believed the Raiders would like to keep Jackson if he would agree to a cut in pay. Guard Richie Incognito was released although he may return, and guard Denzelle Good was free to test the market as of Monday.
Joe Thuney, considered the top guard on the market, agreed to a reported five-year, $80 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
— Good, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, linebacker Nicholas Morrow and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins all remain without a deal from the Raiders or any other team. All are unrestricted free agents.
— Collins, who had no tackles and no sacks after being hyped as the “key” to the defense as a three-technique tackle from Dallas a year ago, agreed to terms on a one-year, $6 million deal with Houston, ESPN reported.
— Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith struck a four-year, $50 million with New England. How does that relate to the Raiders? It shows their decision to extend Darren Waller for three years and $27 million in October of 2019 was a shrewd personnel move.
— Safety John Johnson III of the Rams struck a deal with Cleveland (three years, $33.75 million, $24 million guaranteed), according to NFL Media. The Raiders are looking for a free safety to pair with strong safety Johnathan Abram. Anthony Harris of the Vikings could be a potential target.
— Street free agents who came and went without a deal in advance of the negotiating period (they had already been released and could sign at any time) include cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix.