Entering the 2013 season, the Oakland Raiders will be very thin at offensive tackle. The have their franchise left tackle in Jared Veldheer, but the right side is a question mark. For an offensive line that regressed some in 2012, the Raiders will look to free agency and the draft to find building blocks.
Veldheer was a third round pick by the Raiders in the 2010 NFL Draft. His rookie year he made 11 starts and since then he has started all 16 games in consecutive seasons. He was a steal for the Raiders and has developed into a prize left tackle. Because he is still under his rookie contract, Veldheer is a bargain at a little over a million in 2013. He is one of the pieces on the offensive line that the Raiders can build around.
The right tackle position is the complete opposite. The Raiders started the season with eight year veteran Khalif Barnes at right tackle. However, Barnes missed seven games due to a groin injury and had his fair share of problems when healthy. In Barnes absence, Willie Smith started a right tackle and was a complete disaster. With the position in flux, the Raiders will have decisions to make. Regardless of the circumstances, Smith cannot play in 2013. Barnes is an unrestricted free agent. That means the Raiders either have to make a push for a short term, cheap deal with Barnes as a stop gap and draft a future offensive tackle, or dip into the free agency pool to find their man.
Despite the problems at right tackle, the Raiders have very little depth on the roster for competition. New offensive line coach Tony Sparano will have to work his magic to find an answer and general manager Reggie McKenzie will have to do his due diligence to find the best way to fill the hole.
Tags: Football, Jared Veldheer, Khalif Barnes, NFL, NFL Draft, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie, Tony Sparano, Willie Smith
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