ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders opened free agency on Tuesday by agreeing to a five-year, $42.5 million contract with offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and keeping oft-injured running back Darren McFadden on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.
ESPN also reported Oakland agreed to a five-year, $30 million contract with former New York Jets offensive lineman Austin Howard with $15 million guaranteed.
But the day was just as notable for the players who left town. Left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston, considered building blocks in the rebuilding plan, signed as free agents with Arizona and Chicago, respectively.
Also, last year's leading rusher Rashad Jennings said on Twitter that he was flying to New York and was looking forward to signing a deal with the Giants.
After two years of being hamstrung by bad contracts that left little room to maneuver, general manager Reggie McKenzie was able to spend for the first time with about $60 million in cap room at the start of the league year.
But he chose not to use the franchise tag on either Veldheer or Houston and gave the biggest contract of his tenure to Saffold.
Saffold is guaranteed $21.5 million in the deal. He will be paid $16 million for next season and $27.6 million over the first three years in a sign that the Raiders valued the injury-prone Saffold over the home-grown Veldheer. ESPN first reported the terms.
Veldheer, a third-round pick in 2010 out of Hillsdale College, had been one of the better acquisitions by late owner Al Davis in his later years running the team, starting 42 consecutive games at left tackle before tearing his triceps in training camp last summer. He missed 11 games last year and did not play up to the level he was at in 2012 after his return.
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