McKenzie hopes to retain certain free agents

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are scheduled to have 18 unrestricted free agents and conversations with the agents of the players general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to retain have already begun.

Among those McKenzie is hopeful will return to Oakland next season are left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, free safety Charles Woodson and running back Rashad Jennings.

McKenzie, who met Thursday with six reporters who cover the team regularly, was asked if the franchise tag would be a possibility in retaining a certain player.

“It's always a possibility, yeah, but I don't like to really go there as my (first) option,” McKenzie said. “I would like to negotiate a deal. But the franchise, the transition, those tags, the franchise tag is just one of those deals that is made available for you. You don't want to use that as, 'This is our (only) option.'

“Hopefully we wouldn't need to.”

Woodson, 37, meanwhile, made it known late in the season that we wanted to return, so long as the Raiders would have him.

“I thought he was very solid and could contribute and I told him so,” McKenzie said. “And I told him I would like to talk about getting him back here.”

On whole, the defense played with 10 new starters last season and defensive linemen Jason Hunter, Vance Walker, Pat Sims and Daniel Muir, along with Houston, will be free agents, as well as cornerbacks Mike Jenkins, Tracy Porter and Phillip Adams and safety Usama Young, as well as Woodson.

So yeah, there is a feeling that the Raiders might have to start over again next season on defense, right?

“I don't think we'll have 10 new guys (again),” McKenzie said. “Hopefully there will be a few of the guys coming back and whether it's that same role or whatever, at least we'll have some guys to choose from if we can get them back. If not, we're going to upgrade.

“But the continuity part of it on defense, that's tough ... you still want to get better and if we can, if whatever that number is, six, seven, eight, it's still going to be some changes. But continuity helps, but great players and really good players will help more.”

One player McKenzie seemed ready to part with was oft-injured running back Darren McFadden.

“Darren's going to be a free agent and there's been communication with his agent,” McKenzie said. “He's going to see what his market is. And that's the thing, when you're talking about the games that he's missed, he has no idea -- and when I say ‘He,' I'm talking about his agent -- he has no idea what his market value will be and I couldn't tell you what the other 31 teams think.”

McFadden has missed 19 of the Raiders' past 41 games and 29 in his six-year career.

“And his agent is leaning toward trying to figure out what that is,” McKenzie said. “So, we'll see.”

The Raiders' other five pending UFA's: receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford, tight end Jeron Mastrud, and offensive linemen Khalif Barnes, Tony Pashos and Andre Gurode.