The Oakland Raiders’ decision not to use the franchise tag on left tackle Jared Veldheer left us scratching our heads five weeks ago.
We weren’t the only ones looking askance at the move.
In an interview with the Arizona Republic’s Kent Somers, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin revealed that the Cardinals’ brass was “shocked” when they discovered the Raiders had set Veldheer free.
“He’s a guy you watch on film, he very seldom gets beat,” Goodwin explained. “… I think the comfort level between him and Carson (Palmer), having played together, is going to be huge. I also think he’ll bring a leadership role to the room. He’s a guy who is no nonsense and not afraid to get a little physical in practice or on the field.”
Goodwin’s sentiments echo those of coach Bruce Arians, who told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting two weeks ago that he was also “shocked” to have a shot at Veldheer.
“He’s 6-(foot)-8, 330 pounds and tough as nails,” Arians said. “He’s only 26. It’s everything you want in a left tackle. It’s still hard to believe he was there … We are ecstatic to have him.”
So why did the Raiders allow their most valuable player to fly the coop?
Contemplative general manager Reggie McKenzie conceded that he struggled with the notion of forcing Veldheer and defensive lineman Lamarr Houston to stay if their hearts were no longer in Oakland.
It’s an interesting contrast to Cleveland’s approach.
Faced with a similar scenario involving center Alex Mack, the Browns protected their investment via the transition tag. Now they reportedly plan to match the Jaguars’ five-year offer to ensure a future with one of their few foundation players.
The Raiders might very well finish with more wins than the Browns this season, but they don’t have a single young player on either side of the ball to match the talent level and demonstrated production of Veldheer or Mack.
In the latest edition of the “Around The League Podcast,” the guys begin the offseason Roster Reset series with the AFC West and dive into the ATL mailbag.