The Oakland Raiders not held some introductory press conferences on Monday, but also were active in free agency, with their front office bringing back some of the key figures that helped guide them to such success last season.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and the front office decided to bring back two offensive players who got starting time, one key defensive contributor and an offensive project in the making. These key pieces provide a little more stability in terms of the depth chart heading into the 2017, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Raiders re-sign DL Denico Autry to 1-year tender as restricted free agent. WR Seth Roberts, TE Gabe Holmes, G Denver Kirkland back as ERFAs
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) April 17, 2017
Seth Roberts was a key fixture in the receiving core last season, hauling in 38 receptions for 397 yards and five touchdowns. Many remember Roberts from the Week 9 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, splitting two incoming defenders for the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Derek Carr relies on Roberts in many crucial situations, with strong hands that hauled in many difficult catches. Guard Denver Kirkland was also a key figure last season, stepping up as a replacement during a key stretch of the season. Kirkland filled in at the guard position from Week 5 all the way to Week 10. He also appeared in the Week 13 contest on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Denico Autry steadily proved his worth during the 2016 season, playing in every game in just his third season in the NFL. Autry turned into a monster on the defensive end, as his 6’5″, 273 lbs. frame created mismatches on the line.
The North Carolina native collected 22 tackles (seven assisted), three sacks, two fumble recoveries and two passes defended last season. He also made seven starts last season, making a case to receive more playing time heading into the 2017 season.
The final name, which some fans may not be familiar with, is Gabe Holmes. He went undrafted after spending his collegiate career at Purdue, but the Raiders signed him as a developmental project. The tight end did not appear in a game last season, but certainly has some quality talent if the Raiders have become this invested.
Holmes had an unfortunate end to the 2016 season, being placed on the injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in preseason. The 6’5″, 256 lbs. tight end now lines up behind Jared Cook and Clive Walford, as a reliable third option who looks to have his first fully healthy season.