After back-to-back 4-12 seasons, the Oakland Raiders begin the critical third year of their massive rebuilding process. General manager Reggie McKenzie spent the last two offseasons gutting the roster to save money for the future, and now the Raiders have $60 million in cap space.
This year, the Raiders are in attack mode.
With nearly every facet of the team shrouded in uncertainty, Oakland needs to establish an identity and let the NFL know what kind of team it wants to be.
Part of that identity recognition begins with free agency and bringing in proven players to help guide the younger ones. Here are three of Oakland's biggest needs to address when free agency begins March 11.
The Raiders offensive line was ravaged by injuries in 2013, and the constant shuffle of second and third tier linemen made it impossible for the offense to gain any consistency.
The good news is Jared Veldheer, Oakland's best lineman and current free agent, said he wants to be a Raider for life.
Re-signing Veldheer needs to be McKenzie's biggest priority this offseason, and he needs to get him some help too.
McKenzie needs to give the sales pitch of his life so Cleveland Browns' Pro Bowl center Alex Mack comes to Oakland. Mack is the best center in the NFL, and signing him would mean Stefen Wisniewski could move back to his natural position at left guard which would make Oakland's line even stronger.
There are many proven offensive linemen in this year's free agency class, and the Raiders need to land at least one of them.
One of the reasons the Raiders defense got torched in the second half of 2013 was because there was no pass rush at all. None.
Watching the Seattle Seahawks completely dominate Peyton Manning's offensive line is a clear implication of how important it is to put pressure on the quarterback.
Lamarr Houston, Oakland's only pass rushing threat last year, is a free agent. Like Veldheer, Houston needs to be a high priority on McKenzie's offseason list.
Greg Hardy, Anthony Spencer, Jared Allen and Michael Johnson are just a handful of pass rushers available in free agency, and the Raiders would be wise to bring one of them in.
They could wait until the NFL draft to address their need for a pass rusher, but with the amount of talent available in free agency, they need to sign a proven veteran.
Just like the pass rushers, there are several proven talented backs in this year's free agency class.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Tate and Donald Brown are three of the biggest names on the market aside from the injury-prone Darren McFadden.
The Raiders need to move away from McFadden, as Rashad Jennings filled in nicely for him when he got injured again last season. Re-signing Jennings to a long-term deal wouldn't be a bad idea either.
The Raiders were a solid running team last year, but nearly all of those yards came from Terrelle Pryor and current free agent, Rashad Jennings.
Oakland has some nice, young pieces at wide receiver, and the draft class is loaded with talented wideouts. They need to spend some of that $60 million bolstering their running game.
Steven Slivka is a breaking news reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He also writes about the Oakland Raiders for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.
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