Under the leadership of Al Davis from 1972-2011 and now his son, Mark, the Raiders franchise — currently in its third location in Las Vegas — has taken an aggressive approach to free agency.
While that’s led to a few high-profile successes (Rich Gannon, Charles Woodson, Jerry Rice), it’s also produced a slew of head-scratching deals and failed investments.
Since 2018, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have largely stewarded football operations, and the jury is still out on their tenure. For now, let’s revisit the five worst free agent signings (of the many choices) in Raiders history. Just Spend Baby.
5. Gibril Wilson
After Wilson’s contributions to the New York Giants’ improbable Super Bowl XLII victory, the safety — a Bay Area native — scored a lucrative six-year, $39 million deal with Oakland, making him one of the sport’s highest paid at his position. Wilson played one season near his hometown, amassing 134 tackles but struggling in pass coverage, prompting his release in 2009.
4. Larry Brown
After Brown won the Super Bowl XXX MVP thanks to two interceptions, Davis couldn’t resist overpaying for the Dallas Cowboys cornerback, who had also racked up 10 interceptions in two seasons as a beneficiary playing opposite Deion Sanders. Brown signed a five-year, $12 million deal with the Raiders, yet only produced one interception in 12 games for the silver and black before being released.
3. LaMont Jordan
Jordan was an effective backup for the New York Jets for four years. But Davis saw Jordan as a three-down back, rewarding him with a five-year, $27.5 million contract in 2005. Jordan surpassed 1,000 yards to go with 70 receptions in his first year, but a torn MCL ended his 2006 campaign prematurely and ultimately cost Jordan the starting gig to Justin Fargas. He was released after the 2007 season.
2. D’Angelo Hall
Davis was allured by the idea of pairing All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha with another elite cornerback. In 2008, the Raiders sent a second- and a fifth-round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Hall, whom they inked to a seven year, $70 million deal ($24.5 million guaranteed). Hall had been one of the league’s most dynamic corners over his four years in Atlanta, but was released after just eight games into his first Raiders season due to supposed schematic issues. He would go on to give the Washington Redskins nine (mostly) productive seasons.
1. Javon Walker
In 2008, the Raiders inexplicably gave Walker a six-year, $55 million (non-incentive laden) contract, despite the fact that the 30-year old wide receiver was coming off an underwhelming, injury-riddled season in Denver and struggling with injuries for years in Green Bay.
Walker’s tenure in Oakland was nothing short of a disaster: In his first season, he threatened to retire during training camp, caught 15 balls, then missed the second half of the season due to injury. He played three catch-less games in 2010 and his career was over. Walker earned $21 million from Oakland, approximately $1.4 million per inconsequential reception.