The Raiders started well before losing starting QB Jason Campbell for the year, forcing them to overpay for veteran Carson Palmer to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Palmer, however, never had enough time to get comfortable in Oakland and the team dropped four of their last five games, missing the playoffs.
Important Additions: QB Matt Leinart, RB Mike Goodson, RG Mike Brisiel, DE Dave Tollefson, LB Philip Wheeler, WR Roscoe Parrish, CB Ronald Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer.
Important Losses: QB Jason Campbell, RB Michael Bush, TE Kevin Boss, C Samson Satele, LB Quentin Groves, CB Stanford Routt, CB Chris Johnson.
Reasons to Believe
1. Modern Franchise - Nobody can argue the significance and impact former Raiders owner Al Davis had on the game of football, but it was also evident his philosophies had become outdated recently. With Reggie McKenzie now in charge of making the football decisions, the Raiders will operate with a more modern viewpoint.
|With a full training camp with the team under his belt, the Raiders are hoping for big things from quarterback Carson Palmer.
2. Palmer Prepared - Carson Palmer went from out of football to playing in a meaningful game in a matter of three days last season, with a predictable result: three interceptions. Palmer never had the time to make the Raiders 'his team' last year, but now, with the benefit of a full off-season and training camp, he'll be much more prepared and should greatly improve upon his 2011 numbers as a result.
3. Playmakers Out Wide - There are no superstars in the Raiders' receiving corps, but there are a number of playmaking threats that can change the momentum of a game in an instant. Denarius Moore was last year's breakout star for Oakland, joining another speedy threat, Jacoby Ford. If his off-season performance is any indication, rookie Juron Criner could be the next to join the group in making headlines. Even Darrius Heyward-Bey, cast off by many as a bust through his first two seasons in the league, is making a bit of a name for himself in Oakland.
Reasons to Doubt
1. Few Additions - New GM Reggie McKenzie spent the majority of the off-season purging bad contracts. That means a team that finished last season at 8-8 lost more talent than they picked up. Save for RG Mike Briesel, the free agents Oakland did pick up were all signed to one-year "prove it" deals.
2. McFadden's Backup - One of the talented players the Raiders couldn't afford to re-sign was the reliable Michael Bush. Darren McFadden has yet to play a full 16 games in his four-year career, making Oakland's backup RB position all the more important. In previous years Bush could be relied upon to carry the mail when McFadden went down but now the backup tailback job falls to the much less proven duo of Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones.
3. Young at Corner - Not long ago cornerback was a position of strength for the Raiders. Now they'll be entering the year with other teams' castoffs in Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, and young, unproven players in DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa battling to make the starting lineup.
What to Expect
It's hard not to think Oakland is now on the right track under McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen, but it may take a while. The Raiders' off-season contract purge depleted some talent on the defensive side of the ball, but there are still enough playmakers on both offence and defence to think the team can at least be competitive in 2012; the playoffs, however, may still be a couple years away.