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Team broadcaster ‘mystified’ that Raiders let Jared Veldheer go to Arizona Cardinals

LISTEN: Tom Flores, Oakland Raiders radio color commentator

One thing we know: The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms on a five-year, $35 million contract with free agent left tackle Jared Veldheer.

One thing we don’t know: Why the Oakland Raiders were so amenable to letting Veldheer walk in free agency, especially since the team had approximately $60 million of salary cap space to play with this offseason.

Legendary Raiders coach and current radio broadcaster Tom Flores doesn’t get it, either.

“This move kind of mystifies me, but maybe I liked him more than the Raiders coaches liked him,” Flores told Burns and Gambo Tuesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “They gave Saffold more money than Veldheer got there.

“I would have kept him. You build your team with tackles, you don’t build it with guards. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t have done it.”

Flores made reference to Oakland signing free agent offensive lineman Rodger Saffold, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, to a five-year, $42.5 million deal Tuesday at the beginning of the free agent period. Saffold has played guard at times in his NFL career, but projects to be the Raiders’ left tackle.

“I’m surprised, I really am. That’s one guy I thought they’d keep, for sure,” Flores added. “I just don’t know why they did it, because he hasn’t had any major injuries. I mean the injury that he had was to his triceps, nothing to his legs or knees or hips or anything, so (Veldheer’s) a pretty healthy guy, a young guy.

“He started with our organization and played solid. When he came back (from injury), he played well even though he wasn’t 100 percent with that left arm of his, but still he played very well. (The Raiders) are building with their offensive line and they’ve been doing that for the last couple years, plus he’s one of the veteran guys there, so it surprised me.”

Veldheer didn’t play until Week 13 after he returned to the field following the triceps injury, and started the final five contests for the Raiders. In 210 drop backs in pass protection, he allowed one sack and 13 hurries — including eight in a season-ending loss to the Denver Broncos.

According to Pro Football Focus, Veldheer was the ninth-best left tackle in the NFL in 2012, earning an overall grade of 22.2.

“I liked him from when he was a rookie,” Flores said. “He’s tall, but he can bend, which is the unique thing about him. He can get his knees down and his butt down and have some power in doing so.”