The Raiders have been big spenders this off-season. They're three biggest signings have been DT/DE Tommy Kelly (7 years, 50.5 mil, 18 mil guaranteed), WR Javon Walker (6 years, 55 mil, 16 mil guaranteed), and Gibril Wilson (6 years 39 mil, 16 mil guaranteed).
The three movies are questionale at best, not because of the players they signed or the holes they chose to fill, but because of the dollars they handed out. Of the three, Walker seems to be the only one who was heavily pursued by other teams. But how much money do you want to shell out on a guy who missed almost all of 2005, and half of last season? Sure there were great seasons on either side of the injury-plagued ones, and hes supposed to be coming into camp 100%, but its certainly a gamble to invest that kind of money in a guy on whom you'll rely for his speed, who himself hasn't been able to consistently rely on his right knee the past three years.
Of course, the Raiders desperately need WR help, both to aid the maturation of JaMarcus Russell, and because, QB development or not, they're receiving corps was already severely depleted. Thus, out of the three, the Walker signing is most palatable.
As far as the Wilson signing, he was likely the best available Safety on the market, but only because the other top options were such luminaries as Madieu Williams and Will Demps. Relativity seemingly means nothing in Raiderland, because they made Wilson the the third-highest paid safety in the NFL, trailing only Troy Polamalu and reigning DPOY Bob Sanders. Then again, maybe when they saw Wilson in the Super Bowl they remembered how much they enjoyed the Larry Brown experiment, and decided to revisit it.
Then there was Tommy Kelly. According to Peter King, the raiders handed Kelly the largest contract ever for a Defensive player in team history. But following the theme here, Kelly too, like Walker, is coming off ACL problems (a tear in this case) that limited him to only seven games last season.
Kelly's stats aren't bad, as he averaged 57 tackles in his only two full seasons, good numbers for a lineman often playing tackle. And on top of that, his was a re-signing, so perhaps when you consider that the Raiders knew him well, the move might be more defensible. Or maybe on the other hand, when you consider the Raiders' recent, and perhaps even perennial, dysfunction (see: race-induced injuries, Kiffin's non-resignation) maybe the move is least satisfying of all; who knows what perverse criteria for excellence exist within the Black Hole offices.
One possible explanation for the ostensibly uneccesary overspedning, can be found within Jason Cole's recent Yahoo piece. Cole writes that, "Player salaries are not keeping pace with the expansion of the salary cap." For example, the Bucs still have a staggering $40 million left under the cap.
When you combine those facts with the face of the Raider organization, none of this is so surprising after all.
The Raiders' 2007 Team Ranks
Total Offense: 25
UPDATE: Another detail on Team Turmoil: It's rumored that JaMarcus Russell has ballooned to 300lbs in the off-season.