Orlando Pace is now a free agent.
Al needs to get the deal done. Period.
This is an opportunity for a second shot at Pace. After moving up to get him in the 1997 draft, the Rams traded up ahead of the Raiders and took Pace. The Raiders used their selection that year to take Darrell Russell.
Even as a 12 year veteran, Pace is what the Raiders need. There's not a better left tackle out there. You can say, "Well, they can draft a young kid to play left tackle." I don't see it. Al got burned by Robert Gallery when they took him at number two (overall) in the 2004 draft. I just don't see Al going that route again.
Picking up Pace leaves the Raiders with holes to fill at center, safety, wide receiver and a true strong side linebacker.
The receiver hole will probably be filled with their first round pick with Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin. Maclin is more of the stereotypical "Al Davis type" player, with his speed. Crabtree brings the size, hands and flash. Center and safety can be addressed in the later draft rounds. If Al decides he wants a veteran wide receiver presence, it sounds like Torry Holt is more than likely going to be the next Ram to be released.
As for the strong side linebacker spot, there is an offer on the table to Kevin Burnett. Playing strong side linebacker in a 4-3 should make Burnett a good fit. That will give them a true strong side player and end the musical chairs at that spot, like we saw last season. He's deciding between offers from the Chargers and the Raiders.
These are all encouraging signs, as a fan. It's great to see the Raiders use common sense and patience when making these off season moves. Be smart, spend smart, build through the draft and fill the holes with free agents.
It's also encouraging to hear that Cable is also beginning to change the attitude around the team. Derrick Burgess, who has always worked out during the offseason by himself, away from the Alameda complex, has already been seen around the Raiders facility working out. His mantra of wanting players there who want to win and be a part of the Raiders' return to prominence seems to be taking hold. We'll see the full effect when off season OTAs begin March 16th.