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Offseason Forecast: Oakland Raiders

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With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Oakland Raiders.

What's changing?


With the offseason underway, Around The NFL explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East:
AFC North:
AFC South:
AFC West:
NFC East:
NFC North:
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NFC West:

Former Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has taken over as head coach in place of fill-in Tony Sparano. Del Rio tapped Bill Musgrave to serve as offensive coordinator while former Seahawks linebackers aide Ken Norton, Jr. will play call a defense anchored around last year's rookie sensation, Khalil Mack.

Some were surprised to see general manager Reggie McKenzie retained after presiding over a team that has produced an 11-37 mark under his watch. While he unearthed a potential franchise passer in Derek Carr, McKenzie has plenty of work to do to upgrade a roster weighed down by his own aging, hand-picked free agents. With roughly $51.9 million in cap room -- and the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft -- the Raiders are in good position to add talent under Del Rio.

Biggest free agents


» RB Darren McFadden: McFadden is five years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign and no longer the centerpiece of Oakland's offense. While he ran well at points last season, McFadden was essentially replaced by Latavius Murray down the stretch. The Raiders can rely on Murray and a younger pair of legs to carry the ground game instead of overpaying McFadden for 2015.

» WR Denarius Moore: Speed alone made him a mysterious and tantalizing potential deep threat, but Moore failed to emerge in 2014. With just 115 yards off 12 grabs, the fifth-year wideout doesn't loom as a priority signing for a team that last season handed more snaps to James Jones, Andre Holmes, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brice Butler.

» DT Pat Sims: A run-stuffing role player who exits the field on passing downs, Sims turns 30 in November. He might be kept around on a one-year deal as a reliable option behind starting nose tackle Justin Ellis.

Other key free agents: C Stefen Wisniewski, WR Vincent Brown, TE David Ausberry, DE C.J. Wilson, CB Tarell Brown, CB Carlos Rogers.

On the way out?


» Maurice Jones-Drew: "I want to stay in Oakland and turn this thing around," Jones-Drew said last month. We don't see that happening after MJD -- turning 30 next month -- failed to top 30 yards in a game last season, finishing with just 96 yards off 43 attempts. Over the past three seasons, his yards per rush have tumbled from 4.8 to 3.4 to just 2.2 in 2014. The Raiders can save $2.5 million with his release.

» Matt Schaub: I won't waste your time here. Cutting Schaub saves Oakland $5.5 million, a no-brainer with Matt McGloin looking like a better (and younger) option behind Carr than anything we've seen from Schaub since 2012.

» LaMarr Woodley: Shipped to injured reserve with a torn bicep after six starts, Woodley never lived up to the promise. The Raiders can save another $5.4 million by parting ways with the 30-year-old pass rusher who hasn't topped five sacks since 2011.

What they need


McKenzie must use his ample cap room and draft picks to lace the attack with a play-making wide receiver. The Raiders also must find young pass rushers to supplant the aging core of Woodley and Justin Tuck after Oakland produced a franchise-low 22 sacks in 2014. A lack of talent plagues the cornerback spot, too, which isn't helped by the slow development of former first-round pick D.J. Hayden.

Offseason crystal ball


NFL Media's Lance Zierlein projects Oakland to pick Alabama wideout Amari Cooper with the fourth overall pick. That makes plenty of sense for an offense in need of help. Look for the Raiders to make an equal splash in free agency, with Del Rio filling gaps on his defense with familiar faces who know the scheme. Former Broncos tackle Terrance Knighton might be a target. If the Raiders dump MJD, Schaub and Woodley, they'll have north of $60 million to play with in cap space. The inherent problem is that McKenzie saw all three of those players as worthy free-agent bait last offseason. Raiders fans can only hope the money is better spent this offseason.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the free-agent quarterback market and discusses Peyton Manning's future. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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