Within 72 hours of losing pro-bowl tight end Zach Miller to Seattle, the Raiders made their counter move, adding highly regarded blocking tight end Kevin Boss, formally of the Giants.
Now, Boss won't fill the large void left by Miller, who was the teams top receiver and a leader on and off the field. However, Boss was the 2nd best tight end on the free agent market, and Raiders fans have to feel better about things now then they did upon hearing the news of Miller signing with Seattle. Boss has had some nice seasons in New York playing with Eli Manning, but was never a highly targeted receiver in that offense because their passing game revolved around the wideouts. Boss was typically a 4th or 5th option on most passing plays in that offense. That said, he's been a rock of consistency, putting up mirror seasons the last 2 years, with 567 and 531 yards receiving in '09-'10 along with 5 TD catches in each season. So, while he's not going to put up Miller numbers as far as yards and catches go, he's solid in the red zone and could flourish in a west coast offense like the Raiders run, in which the TE is much more utilized than in the spread-type offense like they run in New York. Boss easily becomes the Raiders highest profile free agent they've added this summer (which tells you how in-active they've been), in what's been a very trying stretch for Oakland to get under the cap for new coach Hugh Jackson. The two other notable free agents they've brought in are guard Justin Smiley, to compete for a starting spot on the O-line, and former Stanford QB Trent Edwards to compete with Kyle Boller to backup Jason Campbell at QB.
Also coming out of Raider camp was the news that star running back Darren McFadden will miss 2 weeks after breaking an orbital bone in his face. It's kind of an odd injury for a football player to get, as they usually have a helmet to cover they face, but it will cost DMac some time none the less. This could hasten the Raiders efforts to re-sign powerback Michael Bush, who is widely expected to eventually return to Oakland. The Raiders haven't been very aggressive in free agency, simply because they don't have the cap space or the appeal to outside free agents, but they did manage to keep nearly all of their own key free agents. Obviously the two big fish that got away were Asomugha and Miller, but with the Raiders cap situation, neither player was expecting to return to Oakland. Miller was the more realistic of the two and Oakland wanted him back badly, so I still am surprised the Raiders didn't pull out all stops to keep him. They did keep Michael Huff, which is a good thing cause they probably wouldn't have replaced him with anyone else if he left, and also re-upped Richard Seymour, Kamerion Wimbley and new #1 corner, Stanford Routt. Right now though, Raiders fans are looking at a near identical team from last year, minus their leading receiver and top defender so they'll need some of their returning players to step up and develop. Even with the popular Jackson at the helm, it's gotta be tough for Raider fans to get optimistic about 2011.
49ers Notes: Well, for the first day in about a week, the 49ers took a day off on signing free agents, but that hasn't stopped the rumors. After the 49ers added star receiver Braylon Edwards, re-made 3/4 of their secondary and added themselves a pro-bowl center, they're still looking to make at least one trade and possibly more signings before next weeks preseason opener. 2nd year safety Taylor Mays (placed on trade block) looks like he's on his way out of town after the 49ers added all those DB's this week, but I certainly hope he's not just given away, cause they just used a 2nd round pick on him last year. They could use him to get themselves an experienced backup QB, because after Alex Smith, they don't have anyone who's ever thrown a pass in the NFL. They could also look to add depth at linebacker and the D-line. As far as free agents go, I don't really see anyone of note out there left that the 49ers will pursue. Former Raiders' LB Kirk Morrison is free and could provide a Takeo Spikes-like presence and stability behind Navarro Bowman. I think he could definitely help this defense.