The Oakland Raiders weren't able to make any positive strides this past season, after ownership once again re-shuffled the coaching staff in an effort to find a winning combination.
Head coach Dennis Allen didn't seem to have much luck with the players, and the scheme on the offensive side of the ball was so ill-fitting for the personnel that the Raiders were among the worst offenses in the league.
While quarterback Carson Palmer somehow managed to lead the Raiders to the No. 8 passing offense in the NFL at 255.3 passing yards per game, the running game lagged behind, averaging just 88.8 rushing yards per game. Only four teams in the league were worse at running the football.
In all, the Raiders finished with a 4-12 record, and once again have to make some changes this offseason. Fortunately, they actually have some draft picks this time around. Unfortunately, they have some salary cap issues. Let's look at their needs below.
Biggest need: Defensive line
The Raiders are electing to void the contract of defensive tackle Richard Seymour, due to the fact that he missed a targeted snap number in his contract while out with injury. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Seymour will still be the highest cap hit on the entire roster in 2013, whether he plays or not.
Still, voiding his contract did save them a little bit of money, as he'll count around $13 million against the cap instead of around $16 million in 2013.
Now the Raiders need to replace him. On top of that, Desmond Bryant is set to hit free agency while Matt Shaughnessy struggled big time last season. In other words, the Raiders have zero pass rush to speak of heading into next season, and no cap space with which to try and lure Bryant back.
Other needs: Cornerback, wide receiver, quarterback, offensive line depth
If the Raiders can get Darren McFadden rolling again in a power running offense, as opposed to the zone blocking scheme he struggled in last year, then that position is not a concern. Unfortunately, there's some other issues on offense. Quarterback Carson Palmer is not the permanent solution at his age, and the Raiders are still searching for a game-changing wide receiver.
But the biggest issues lie in the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha is gone, Stanford Routt is gone, and now Oakland's top six defensive backs from this past season are set to hit free agency. They can draft for pass rush all they want, but without any secondary to speak of they won't get anywhere.
NFL Draft outlook: Raiders have rare first-round pick
OK, so calling a first-round pick rare for the Raiders is a bit unfair, but they have traded away so many high picks in recent years it seems like they haven't been able to build top-flight talent. They've tried to build through trades and free agency and it hasn't even come close to working out.
They're still feeling the trade effects, as they'll be out a second-rounder and a fifth-rounder due to Carson Palmer and Aaron Curry trades. Still, they have a top-three pick in the first round and can add a premium talent there. Other than that, they have a pick in the third, four, sixth and seventh rounds. They have two picks in the seventh and may receive a couple compensatory picks for the sixth round.
The latest SB Nation mock draft has the Raiders going big and drafting Sharrif Floyd, the defensive tackle out of Florida, with their No. 3 overall pick in the first round.
Salary cap situation: Not good, even after moves
As noted above, the Raiders really don't have cap space to make things happen. The voiding of Seymour's contract will save them $5.4 million in the end, and they'll pay Seymour $13.7 million for his troubles.
Oakland doesn't have much room to work with. They were over the cap throughout most of the offseason but have made some moves to get back into the black. They were able to restructure the contract of right guard Mike Brisiel, meaning his cap hit is significantly less, from $4.35 million to $1.35 million. That move put the Raiders about $1.5 million under the cap.
Then, more recently, the Raiders restructured the contract of Tyvon Branch. The deal sends more money Branch's way in the future, but they're expected to save around $4.3 million in cap space due to the deal. In other words, they have right around $5 million in cap space for 2013.
There's some big contract numbers around, as well. Tommy Kelly, Rolando McClain and Darrius Heyward-Bey are the most likely cap casualties, despite two of them (Kelly and Heyward-Bey) being contributors on the team. If all three were cut, it would save the Raiders $17.3 million.