COMMENTARY | The Oakland Raiders, for once again another year, still continue to rebuild.
General manager Reggie McKenzie will have his hands full trying to improve this team that hasn't tasted playoff success since 2003.
He'll also have to do it without having much money to work with.
Oakland needs to improve on several fronts, most notably the defensive line and the secondary.
Since the Raiders are more likely to address these issues in the draft, free agency must be the way to go to solve their other problems.
Wheeler finished with a team-high 109 tackles, as well as three sacks and two forced fumbles.
Now, Wheeler is a free agent and is sure to get looks from several other teams after such a stellar season in Oakland.
If the Raiders were to franchise tag him, they'd have to pay him $9 million in 2013.
Wheeler was good last season, but he wasn't $9 million good.
The Raiders need to have a backup plan if they are unable to come to terms with Wheeler on a deal.
The 10-year veteran finished last season with 112 tackles, three forced fumbles and two sacks for a Buffalo Bills defense that was just as anemic as Oakland's.
Barnett also has ties with McKenzie, who he played for as a member of the Green Bay Packers, as well as new Raiders' linebackers coach Bob Sanders who came in from Buffalo.
It seems like the perfect fit.
Sure, Barnett may be 31, but he is still a solid NFL linebacker who would instantly make the Raiders better on defense.
He was only set to make $3.5 million in base salary next year with Buffalo, and the Raiders could easily afford him.
His Super Bowl experience, as well as his familiarity with McKenzie and Sanders make Barnett a perfect fit in silver and black.
Now, it's a matter of pulling the trigger.
Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka