Raiders vs Chargers: Lessons from Week 3 and How to Avoid Losing at SoFi again

The Raiders need to make some turnovers this week. They threw three interceptions and allowed four sacks. Vegas’ offensive line failed their first real test of the season.

There’s a lot of talk about Josh McDaniels’ choice to take points late in the fourth instead of trying to tie the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion. However, the real tragedy is how the Raiders gave up the ball. They are not a team that can afford that many turnovers. Plus, if Kenny Pickett tore up the Raiders wait til Justin Herbert gets his hands on us. We have not beat Herbert at SoFi.

The Raiders defense was sound against the run versus Pittsburgh. They get a hobbled Chargers rushing attack that is down their starting back. Los Angeles’ interior line hasn’t looked great either this year.

Still, the Raiders pass defense took some lumps versus Pittsburgh but a turnover or two could have helped them overcome some of those failed big conversions. Yet, Maxx Crosby once again was the only player to consistently get home and disrupt the Steelers offense.

Nonetheless, Josh Jacobs and the running attack were not much more effective versus the Steelers. Jacobs continues to cut and dodge his way but he needs more push from his interior offensive line. Some added push on those double teams will make Jacobs’ life easier. Not to mention, the Raiders can avoid some of the lapses in blitz pickup by avoiding obvious passing downs with more rushing yards on the first two downs.

Vegas will get another tough challenge at the edge this week. They can’t afford lapses in blitz pickup. Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor can both get beat by speed to power.

The Los Angeles Chargers will not be at full strength. Edge Joey Bosa didn’t practice all week. Running back Austin Ekeler and Derwin James are out. Receiver Mike Williams is done for the year. This franchise is gratefully more tragic than ours.

Raiders defensive Back Nate Hobbs, quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo and edge Maxx Crosby are all questionable. My guess is the two defensive players go and the QB sits out. Garoppolo has been in concussion protocol all week. Vegas needs Crosby to play because he is the team’s only reliable pass rusher. Both teams have key players missing practice.

Even without Williams, Los Angeles can throw for 300 passing yards. Bolts quarterback Justin Herbert has played progressively better this season. Herbert threw for over 400 yards versus the Dolphins and hasn’t even thrown an interception this year.

On offense, the Chargers rank in the top five for passing yards. The Raiders’ improved defensive backfield must create a turnover this week. This will help them overcome any big plays they allow to an explosive aerial attack. Stopping the Chargers pass attack is a lot harder to do without Crosby applying consistent pressure. Los Angeles is not strong on the right side of the offensive line. Vegas must exploit them. Of course it would be great to have a healthy and sane Chandler Jones in the mix. However, he was finally let go after an arrest topped some weird public behavior that Jones began exhibiting online.

Defensively, the Chargers have allowed the most passing yards. Vegas is closer to the middle of the pack in passing yards but that should change after this game. The Raiders have to attack the middle and deep parts of the field with James out for L.A.

Los Angeles still has former Raiders edge Khalil Mack. He has yet to get into the sack column but that could change this week. Rookie Tuli Tuipulotu has two sacks. Those two could play more together with Bosa expected to miss. That’s enough explosiveness and bend to give the Raiders’ tackles some problems. Double the trouble if Jimmy G. does not end up playing as expected. Garoppolo is pretty good at avoiding sacks by dumping the ball out.

Even without Ekeler for two games, the Chargers are in the middle of the pack for rushing yards. Vegas is in the bottom ten for rushing yards allowed per game. Joshua Kelley is not exactly consistent but he brings some burst out of the Bolts’ backfield.

There is no reason the Raiders should be last in rushing yards. The Chargers are in the middle of the pack in yards given up on the ground this season. However, some of that could be attributed to the back forth nature of their games. Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray looks better this year and they added Eric Kendricks to help them sure up the run. Kendricks may miss this game. Either way, Vegas should be able to run the ball.

Vegas should also receive another home field advantage at SoFi. Although, they need to do something with it. The team has yet to secure a regular season win versus the Rams or Chargers at SoFi. Not to mention, a win for either team cements second place on the AFC West. Plus, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is playing for his job the way the media talks.

Nobody should be surprised if the Raiders lose this game. Los Angeles is a couple of plays in close games away from being 3-0. Both teams are hobbled but the Chargers have looked more explosive than Vegas.

The Raiders will also be without their starting signal caller. Meanwhile, L.A. is down two of their impact defensive players and several key offensive weapons. Overall, the Chargers might be a bit more desperate due to their coach being on the hot seat. Then again, Vegas should be just as desperate based off how Davante Adams sounded fed up after last week’s loss.

Regardless, the Raiders will be starting a rookie quarterback. They like how Aiden O’Connell can push the ball down field versus veteran Brian Hoyer. Adams has been effective even when the offense hasn’t been effective. They should get him the ball again early and often.

Vegas needs to establish the run game. Adams and his rookie QB will have more opportunities for big shots if the offense can stay ahead of the chains. This Chargers defense can easily get carved up on the ground and through the air.

On defense, the Raiders need someone else besides Crosby to make a play. Rookie Tyree Wilson looked more comfortable last week. He is getting closer to making some plays but he needs to get home. Either way, a turnover is necessary from any part of the Raiders’ defense.

Vegas can win if they run the ball, convert a deep shot or two, protect the ball, rush the quarterback and create a turnover. They must play classic Raiders football. Otherwise, they could be looking at a tough loss in front of a home crowd in Los Angeles.

Raiders VS Steelers: Bills Recap and Keys to Beating Pittsburgh

The Raiders failed to stop the run or pass versus the Bills. Josh Allen barely missed a pass. James Cook surpassed 120 rushing yards on only 17 carries.

Vegas failed to do much on offense too. Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions. One was kind of when the game was out of reach. The first one was on a busted screen. Josh Jacobs finished the game with negative rushing yards on nine attempts. Jacobs was also the team’s second leading receiver with five catches for 51 rushing yards. This offense doesn’t move the same playing from behind.

The Blls overall had their way with the Raiders defense. Backup Buffalo runners Latavius Murray and Damien Harris combined for an additional 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The bright spot last week was the two sacks made by Raiders linebackers. Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo both got one sack last week. Those two players along with Maxx Crobsy, Marcus Epps and Nate Hobbs are among the Raiders best graded players, per PFF.

Vegas’ defensive line, outside of Crosby, is ranked terribly bad by PFF through two games. Overall, the Raiders defensive line got pushed around. Buffalo really controlled the game outside of the Raiders scoring first.

The offensive line earns solid PFF grades mostly due to their reliable pass blocking. Garoppolo has yet to be sacked this season. Some of that credit goes to Jimmy getting the ball out quick. Dylan Parham is the lowest graded starting offensive lineman currently. Collectively, the group could do more on thier double teams.

Now, the Silver and Black come home to face an old-time rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh stole one on Monday Night Football last week after Browns star runner Nick Chubb went down. Cleveland starting quarterback Deshaun Watson failed to carry his team to victory late in the game.

The Browns should have won that game but the biggest difference maker was the Pittsburgh pass rush. They sacked Watson six times, including one sack from sta T.J. Watt. Markus Golden, Larry Ogunjobi, Demarvi Leal, Elijah Riley and Alex Highsmith all got sacks. Every Raiders offensive linemen is going to have their pass blocking put to the test. Vegas needs to keep their heads up to identify blitzes and stunts.

Pittsburgh has also failed to get Najee Harris going this season. He finished last week’s game with 43 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Some of that gets attributed to the team battling back from a deceit. Harris has 74 rushing yards on 16 attempts for the year. He did not do much on the ground last year but made an impact as a receiver out of the backfield.

Regardless, the Raiders can’t afford to let Harris get going early. Running back Jaylen Warren has also been a passing threat out of the backfield. Warren has 9 receptions for 78 yards. The Raiders linebackers must be on their toes.

The Raiders secondary will also get pushed. Pittsburgh receiver George Pickens scored a 71 yard receiving touchdown last week. Otherwise, he has 8 catches for 92 yards on the year. Across from him Allen Robinson had a solid week versus the 49ers the week before. Robinson has 7 receptions for 76 receiving yards and has found his role.

Pittsburgh allowed seven sacks already this season. Maxx Crosby and company need to pressure Kenny Pickett and keep him from getting comfortable. Pickett has also already thrown three interceptions this year too.

Vegas is still waiting for their first interception of the year. The secondary has been better than years past, but they need to help the offense out by getting a pick this week. Pickett likes to get the ball out quick so the Raiders pass rush needs to get to work early and often.

Any turnover would be huge for this Raiders defense. The Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane will take on the team he spent four seasons with before joining the Raiders. Corner Marcus Peters is on this team to create takeaways. Peters needs to get an interception asap. Safety Marcus Epps looked great last week but it would also be great to see him make a play on the ball.

Either way, the Raiders need to set the tone on offense. They need to get Josh Jacobs and the running game going. Pittsburgh has allowed the second most rushing yards this season. Getting Jacobs going will take the pressure of Garoppolo. He’s much better protecting a lead, instead of having to push the ball downfield.

Davante Adams has found ways to be effective despite the offense not really running through him. He has 12 receptions for 150 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Steelers are in the middle of the pack as far as pass defense.

There is not another player on the Steelers that can matchup with Adams. Plus, Jakobi Meyers should be back in the lineup. He and Jimmy G. had a natural chemistry. Hunter Renfrow made a play last week. Austin Hooper also made a couple of solid catches last week. That should open up things for Adams over the top.

Again, the Raiders secondary will get tested. However, they should get some more help from the pass rush. The Raiders defensive line must earn the right to rush the passer by stopping the run. Their interior defensive linemen need to play with more hands and better anchors. They can not get pushed around again this week.

A turnover would be great to help this unit gain some confidence. It will give the Raiders defense some added room for error too. Vegas is -4 in the turnover ratio already.

The Raiders will return to their home field for the first time this season. Still, it could be a hostile environment filled with Steelers fans. We never like losing to the Terrible Towel.

Vegas has the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay Packers coming up. Both could be really tough games that they might not be able to lose. Nobody wants to be 1-4.

Bottom line, the Raiders need a win. It’s far from a must win. However, a victory would do a lot to build some momentum and confidence for Vegas after such a bad loss. A win here should help the Raiders establish their identity, especially if they can establish the run and create some turnovers.

It wasn’t pretty but the Raiders secured a season opening win and their seventh consecutive victory over the Broncos. Vegas also positioned themselves as the No. 1 team in the AFC West. The Chiefs and Chargers both took losses in Week One.

The Raiders offensive line didn’t look great. Denver held Josh Jacobs to less than 50 yards rushing for the day. Jacobs did break more tackles than any other running back last week so the performance can’t get blamed on his rust.

Nobody gave up a sack but some of that credit goes to Jimmy Garoppolo for getting the ball out. Denver did feature a top run defense last year. Except Vegas found ways to run the ball last year.

On defense, the line did secure two sacks of Russell Wilson. Raiders edge Tyree Wilson had some flashes including the first play of the game. Jerry Tillery registered a sack and flashed his hands, stunt and closing speed. Yet, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson also held onto the ball too long. Either way, it was nice to see some disruption beyond Maxx Crosby’s usual presence.

Vegas did get carved up in the run game. There were times the Raiders needed more anchor in the middle. Other times their ends got too far upfield. Some of that blame goes on the backers. They also got beat in coverage. Denver honestly should’ve stuck with the run more.

Nonetheless, the game came down to the Broncos missing a kick. They also did the Raiders a favor failing to convert an onside kick early. Special teams really helped Vegas edge that victory out.

Moving onto Week Two, the Raiders face a tougher challenge. They go on the road again, this time to the East Coast. Vegas faces a Buffalo Bills team that contended last year. However, they overwhelmed in the opener versus the Jets. Expect them to come out with an extra sense of urgency. Despite how bad they looked early, Buffalo only lost by a punt return in overtime. Plus, the Silver and Black don’t always travel to the east well.

The Raiders run game seems to be their biggest advantage this week. Buffalo’s most effecrive rusher was Josh Allen last week, The Silver and Black need to establish the run to again control the game. That will also keep Allen off the field.

They will also be without Jakobi Meyers who finished as the top receiver last week. Vegas needs to get Davante Adams more involved early. The run game should also take some burden off Adams. Weather shouldn’t impact the game as it will be warm with little wind.

Stefon Diggs loves the intermediate work. The Raiders safeties and corners must tackle well. Dawson Knox could also give the Raiders linebackers some work. Josh Allen did throw three interceptions a week ago. Vegas needs to force an interception this week. They did not do that versus the Broncos. Marcus Peters is on this roster to force turnovers.

Special teams could again be critical. The Raiders advantage in the kicking game should help.

Ultimately, the Raiders game plan should remain the same. Use the run game to keep the other offense off the field. Take advantage of good field position. The extra part this week is getting even more pressure and forcing a turnover on defense. It would not hurt if the offense can convert a big play too. That should pretty much be the Raiders blueprint most of the year.

Raiders Week One Quick Broncos Preview and 2023 Camp Column

Week one is here. Josh Jacobs is back. Jimmy G. And Davante Adams are healthy. The offensive line is intact and looks much more in sync than a year ago. Michael Mayer is off the mend. Hunter Renfrow is healthy too.

Josh Jacobs ended his holdout and signed his contract, even though it took them weeks for him to sign basically the same contract that was offered before camp. Nonetheless, the Raiders lead offensive weapon is back in Silver and Black for this season at least.

The defense got Tyree Wilson some snaps. Marcus Peters was finally signed. Maxx Crosby looks as good as ever. The defensive line also added a couple of rookie defensive tackles as well signed a new starting linebacker and safety.

Vegas has even more hope for this season than last. It’s year two of the coaching staff. No new system or regime excuses.

Of course, everything seemed a little too quiet for RaiderNation. Chandler Jones was locked out of the facility and couldn’t reach any of the figureheads. He took to social media where he unfollowed the team and key players. Jones also went on a social media rant. He won’t play in Week One, according to reports.

It’s unclear why this all happened. Some say he is getting cut or traded. That’s weird given his replacement Tyree Wilson has been hurt all offseason. It’s even more weird considering Jones restructured his deal and added some years to the end of it. Wilson had limited reps in camp and preseason. He looks like he still needs to knock some rust off before it is fair to expect anything from him.

Vegas was hoping for a bounce back year with Jones. He also could be a great mentor for Wilson. So far it looks like the social media was a big misunderstanding, but who really knows? There’s speculation Jones could’ve been going through it mentally.

Nonetheless, the Raiders do not have time to get off to a slow start. They have two division games in the first four games. Their other two matchups come against a contending Buffalo team and rising Steelers team.

They’ll also have the NFC North and the Patriots in the stretch after that. No one is really sure what to expect from those teams but the Raiders aren’t that much more of a sure thing either. Vegas oddsmakers have the Raiders around the 5-7 win-total mark.

If the Raiders hope to upset that, it begins once again with running the rock. Last year, they did a great job riding Josh Jacobs as the lead back early and often.

Now, the offensive line should improve with some increased continuity. Only Alex Bars was let go from last year’s starters. You won’t see any tears here because he was by far the weakest link. Expect the offensive line to have improved push, particularly on the double teams.

Of course, Jacobs may or may not be in full form due to missing camp. Vegas also relied on Zamir White and company more. We should see them sprinkle in more backs by committee. That should also preserve Jacobs and keep defenses on their toes.

Further, the biggest move the Raiders made was replacing Derek Carr at QB. Jimmy G. Is surrounded by even more weapons as the Raiders added Jakobi Meyers, Austin Brate and Meyers. They also kept Hunter Renfrow, despite trading away Darren Waller.

The idea is that Jimmy G.’s playoff experience and decision making gets Vegas farther than Carr every did. However, I think that will really come down to the strength of the defense. Garoppolo has always had a stout defense aiding his gameplay.

The good news is, Vegas added Marcus Peters to the secondary. He’s a high level playmaker and plays the game with a high IQ. Peters is among the interception leaders since he entered the league. Vegas has not had a player that can create turnovers like that in awhile.

Moreover, the Secondary as a whole is looking a lot stronger. Nate Hobbs is healthy and the team signed Michael Epps fresh off a Super Bowl appearance with the Eagles. Trevon Moehrig is looking better after taking a step back last year. Rookie Jakorian Bennett and Chris Smith add some needed youth to the group. They also retained Brandon Facyson and David Lang for some veteran DB help. Amik Robertson could also help out at safety and corner.

Vegas’ biggest weakness is clearly the defense. There is a lot of talk about Devine DeAblo’s ascension into the starting linebacker role. He has battled injuries in the past. It remains to be seen what he can do. Robert Spillane is the other linebacker. He can be hit or miss. I’d still love to see them add more there. I’m not the biggest Luke Masterson or Amari Burney fan, even if they are both young. Masterson doesn’t have the coverage skills to stay on the field and Burney is super raw.

The defensive line will once again be anchored by Maxx Crosby. Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery were brought back after flashes last year. They both give the front some scheme flexibility. I think this group should be great getting off the ball. I just hope they can help out Crosby versus the pass and their linebackers in the run. Jones and Wilson should be an upgrade over Jones and Ferrell last year. Wilson has a lot more upside than Ferrell due to raw talent and tools. However, Wilson is probably even less developed than Ferrell.

If the defense can get after the passer and the secondary can convert some turnovers the Raiders should have a chance on every game. If they can’t stop the run though, they won’t be able to pound the ball and control the clock as easily as they would like. You have to earn the right to rush the passer by handling business versus the run on the first two downs.

Furthermore, Jimmy G. Has to be great on third down. Hopefully he’s healthy and not afraid to step up and scramble for a first down, unlike ghosts of Raiders past. It’s both a blessing and a curse that Jimmy G. Is not the deep ball thrower that Carr is. Yes, that means less highlight deep passes down field. It also means less cringe-worth sacks or dump off passes for no game. Garoppolo has to get the ball out quick so his playmakers can create big plays if they are not going to push the down the field.

All this is much easier when the Raiders have got starts and leads to sit on. It’s easy to sink and dunk when you come out with rhythms and execute. It’s easy to keep running the ball when you’re ahead on the scoreboard. It’s easier to sack the quarterback or jump routes for picks when opposing teams are playing catch-up. Therefore, this defense is really going to rely on the offense to put them in winning positions. Moreover, I think the offense will be better at capitalizing on field position and converting drives into points. The Raiders long struggled in the red zone under Carr. Converting in the red zone is Jimmy G.’s quickest path to showing he is an upgrade over Carr.

Vegas has a chance if the Raiders offensive line can continue the momentum it built last year and someone other than Crosby steps up in the pass rush. Strong trench play will be critical to the Raiders success, particularly early in the season.

Denver offers a strong matchup. The Broncos are a three-point favorite over the Raiders today. Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton will give the Raiders’ rebuilt secondary a real test. The pass rush will be critical to helping the Raiders get the Broncos’ quick passing attack contained. The Denver offensive line improved by adding Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. They also added Ben Powers at guard. Lloyd Cushenberry and Garrett Bolles are both still there. There’s a lot of draft and free agency resources invested in the Denver offensive line.

On defense, Denver added defensive lineman Zach Allen. Overall, the Raiders have a good chance to establish themselves versus a rebuilt veteran defensive line in Denver. Dominating the Broncos defensive line would really help the Raiders start strong.

Either way, nobody wants to 0-1. There’s a lot of reasons to not have hope this season but there’s also just as many reasons the Raiders could have a great season. Vegas just needs to execute. Of course, we’ve been saying that the last 20 years. The losing has to stop. It is time the Raiders get back to excellence.

Shout out to Tom Brady who looks like he was always meant to wear Silver and Black. Brady always beat Manning, who has ties to the Broncos organization. Let’s hope the Raiders keep their streak versus the Broncos going.

NFL Draft 2023 Strategy and Free Agency Thoughts

Can you believe it’s already draft season? This offseason flew by. Now, the Vegas Raiders will try and turn their franchise around with one draft.

The Raiders own 12 picks in this draft. Four of those fall in the top-100. Vegas could add more if they find a trade partner for Hunter Renfrow. They could also move incumbent starters Andre James and Bilal Nichols for later picks if they want more cap space. Who knows? Maybe they trade a late pick to move Chandler Jones’ contract. The Rams found takers for Allen Robinson after all.

Rumors and Needs

It’s hard to predict exactly what the Raiders will do. They have needs on both sides of the ball. Their most immediate need is in the secondary. However, they could use upgrades along the offensive line, front-seven, quarterback, tight end, and backup running back.

A lot falls on what happens at the top of the NFL Draft. Rumors predict the Raiders moving up into the top-five picks to get a quarterback. That’s not a bad strategy if you believe the Raiders want to get the QB of the future.

The decision get harder if CJ Stroud or Bryce Young are available after those first two picks. New rumors say one of those could be available. Some rumors have had the Raiders moving up to No. 3. The Cardinals hold that pick and they don’t need a quarterback. Other speculation includes the Texans not taking a quarterback. Other rumors popped up that Stroud may tumble in the draft due to poor test scores in the draft process.

QB of the Future

Either way, Vegas must truly consider taking their QB of the future. Nobody wants to draft this high again. As much as I like Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker, I’m not sure either make sense in the top-10. Richardson will need some time to develop and he probably doesn’t fit the scheme. Hooker is off an injury so he may fall into the later rounds.

Vegas is probably better off taking their chances on a QB in the later rounds if Stroud or Young are gone. Some folks like Will Levis but I have more questions than answers. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Levis is off the board when the Raiders make their first selection.

I’m all for Vegas moving up if they really like one of the top-3 QBs. Stroud is my pick since he wants to be close to home and play with Adams. Raiders should take him if he’s there at No. 7, for sure.

However, they have to hit on that sort of gamble. Double the importance of the move up.

A lot Rides on the 2023 Draft

We’ve seen this show before. It’s hard to completely turn around a team in the draft. It’s even harder to do when you have to spend your top selection on a QB that needs a few years to develop.

Otherwise, Vegas should look at addressing their biggest needs on defense. A lot of mock draft feature the Raiders taking Christian Gonzalez out of Oregon or Devon Witherspoon out of Illinois. Either corner probably starts Day One.

Vegas needs an instant playmaker if they take a corner in the top-10. They need to get picks and matchup versus the top perimeter threats. The track record on taking corners is mixed for the league but it is bad for the Raiders.

This secondary class is deep enough that the Raiders don’t need to force the selection of a corner. Ky Blue Kelly and Mekhi Blackmon could compete if taken in the mid to late rounds.

Gonzalez or Witherspoon could be good for the Raiders. There’a also a chance neither is available. The chances of that happening only increases if these QB or OT needy teams go defense.

With the No. 7…

The same could be said for the defensive line. It’s hard to pass on a talent like Jalen Carter. The versatile defensive lineman is exactly what the Raiders need. It’s also hard to take him given his driving history plus the infamous Henry Ruggs III story.

Other defensive line options include Tyree Wilson. The Texas Tech edge was productive and could really learn behind Chandler Jones. They have similar size and athleticism. Wilson is honestly become one of my favorite options.

There’s also plenty of edge talent that could fall into the top of the second round. Vegas would be lucky to land Marcus Murphy or Nolan Smith in the second round. Isaiah Foskey, Derick Hall, Adetomiwa Adebawore, BJ Ojulari and Tuli Tuipulotu are more likely options in the second round. All that depth in this draft could mean Vegas looks elsewhere with No. 7.

KJ Henry, Zach Harrison and Byron Young are some other options in the third round. DJ Johnson is a guy I like in the later rounds. He has size and athleticism to develop into something. Scott Matlock is a defensive tackle I like with some sleeper athleticism. Jerrod Clark is also a nose tackle I like with some versatility to play along the offensive line. Either could crack the rotation late.

Ultimately, the Raiders have to go defense in the first round if they decide to punt on the top QBs. Considering they haven’t signed a veteran CB, it will most likely be a corner. However, I wouldn’t rule out Wilson. If both top Corners are gone, Vegas could also move back and target a player like Joey Porter Jr.

The Second Round

Vegas could also consider a tackle in the top round. Peter Skoronski is the consensus top tackle but he may get selected before the Raiders are on the clock. Paris Johnson out of OSU is also in the conversation. Considering we’re still recovering from Alex Leatherwood’s flop, I’d prefer to wait on adding a tackle.

The Raiders may wait for Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison or Broderick Jones to fall to them in the second round. Wayna Morris and Blake Freeland have some developmental potential in the later rounds.

Still, I think that option is unlikely since they brought back both Eluemunor and Brandon Parker. They also have Frank Herron and Thayer Munford at the at the position. Drafting a guard in the middle rounds is a more likely move to address the offensive line in my opinion.

Steve Avila, Terrance O’Cyrus, and John Michael Schmitz could all be gone in the first. Vegas could consider any of those options to upgrade their interior at the top of the draft. I like moving James for cap space and having Parham move back to center.

Cody Mauch and Matthew Bergeron are some players I also like upfront. Those two bring a little more versatility to play tackle. They may be available in the second round but probably not the third. John Gaines is another interior presence who might be on the board later.

Sidney Snow is another late round linemen to consider. He does have some injury questions to answer. Jake Andrews out of Temple is another versatile interior lineman who made some money in the Draft process.

Assuming the Raiders don’t take a QB, defense should be the priority in the first and second rounds. The second round should be the best player available in the secondary or defensive line (Whatever they didn’t take in the first round). Only because they can always find line help in the later rounds. My second round pick would be one of the top edge rushers like Foskey, Tuli, Harrison, Hall, or Adebawore. However, I could see them going offensive line if there is a guy they really like. Linebacker could also come into the conversation

Stickier Middle Rounds

The Raiders have had a major presence at all the All-Star games. It would not surprise me if they found a QB they like outside of the top-5 players at the position. I can see them taking Jake Haener, Stetson Bennett or Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the middle to late rounds. Jaren Hall or Malik Cunningham could be in play later too.

That means Vegas could also take a defensive player or offensive linemen in the third or fourth round. Daiyon Henley is a coverage linebacker I like. Dorian Williams has long arms and the speed to play in the NFL. There’s a chance neither are available in the third. Both could also be available in the third.

Marte Mapu is another one with the versatility to play safety. He’s slowly climbed up draft boards. Noah Sewell could be a later round option if Vegas wants an old-school thumper at LB. Aubrey Miller is another guy who made himself money in the later rounds. The important thing is finding someone who can compete right away.

Tyrique Stevenson is a corner I like in the second or third. He brings a good combination of size and speed on the outside. Antonio Johnson is a big slot corner with the production to go in the top of the second.

Sydney Brown has climbed up boards. His combination of size, speed and production last year also make him a target in the second or third round. He can play corner or safety. The challenge is this corner class is very deep. It’s hard to predict who goes where because there is so much talent at each level of the draft. Kelee Ringo is another name to watch from Mock Drafts in the second or third rounds at corner.

Those Two Third Round Picks

If the Raiders go pass rusher and DB with their top picks, their third pick should probably be the best lineman available regardless of position. A sleeper could be a tight end but again this class is deep and the Raiders could wait. Vegas could also take a RB or WR despite already having too many on the roster.

Then, the second third round pick should go to a linebacker or safety. Henley probably won’t be there but Miller and Williams could be. Mapu could be a reach but he fits the hybrid role.

I also wouldn’t rule out a safety. Vegas can probably wait to get a safety in the fourth or so.

In the later rounds. Daniel Scott and JL Skinner are some mid round safeties I like for the Raiders. Scott is a ball hawk from California. Skinner is also from Cali. He’s a big-hitter and a sleeper with his speed. He’s been mocked everywhere from the second to fifth round. Scott has been everywhere after the fourth.

The Rest of the Draft

Vegas absolutely needs to hit on those top picks in the first three rounds. It should come at their biggest positions of needs along all three levels of the defense. They should also look to protect their QB in those top-4 priorities. .

If they take a QB in the top-3 rounds then one of those needs should be an easy target in the fourth. I also wouldn’t rule them out from taking their favorite late round pick in the fourth. After that, they just need to take the best player available. Vegas needs depth and players who can push incumbents across the roster.

The next biggest teams needs are defensive tackle or tight end. It could also be along the offensive line depending on who they take with their top-4 picks. They may even double-up on corner, linebacker or safety if there is a player they like. Tight end is the wild card as the team could also use an upgrade, despite signing some veterans.

Based off my predictions, I probably draft a safety or corner in the fourth round. Maybe a tight end or quarterback if someone slipped through the cracks.

Then I’m looking at all defense and offensive line with those three fifth rounders. Close out the seventh with some developmental selections on the DL, secondary or tight end positions.

Free Agency Reaction

Not sure if I could have gotten the Raiders free agency more wrong. About the only thing I got right was the low-hanging fruit. The Raiders were obviously going to sign Jimmy G. They were obviously going to keep Jermaine Eluemunor, Alex Bars and Jerry Tillery It was also easy to predict Denzel Perryman, Clelin Ferrell and Mack Hollins finding more value on the open market.

The biggest surprise is the fact that the Raiders haven’t signed Duron Harmon or Rock Ya-Sin. Both were bright spots and neither should be too expensive. Vegas still needs playmakers in the secondary despite a couple of additions.

Quick Hits on Free Agency Signings

  • RB Josh Jacobs (franchise tag): He had his best season last year. Jacobs deserves a big payday after last year. However, running backs peak early and there is no telling how long Jacobs will sustain. I hope he doesn’t hold out but it might be in best to just let the one year play out. If Jacobs plays well, Vegas can pay him as some of that dead money finally comes off the books.
  • DT Jerry Tillery (re-signed): Why not? Showed some ability to get off the ball. Interested to see him after an offseason in the defense. Strong, big and athletic enough to play across the line. Knows the division.
  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo (3 years, $67.5 million): This always seemed like the most realistic option. My pops reminds no one thought much of Rich Gannon, either. I don’t know how good Jimmy G. Will be but his best chance is probably with McDaniels and a bunch of weapons. He can be a good bridge for the Raiders draft selection.
  • WR Jakobi Meyers (3 years, $33 million): Not the splash we wanted but should have been expected. Versatile to play inside or out. Compliments Adams and Renfrow well. Price could have been better. Gives them flexibility with Renfrow too. They can move his cap hit.
  • S Marcus Epps (2 years, $12 million): A bit of an over pay compared to some other players at the position. Not the big name we hoped for but fits the scheme and fills a role. Starting and playoff experience helps. Versatile too.
  • LB Robert Spillane (2 years, $7 million): Probably my least favorite move. Not a bad price but not a great one. Seems like a step back from Denzel Perryman. Could be pushed or replaced by a rookie or trade target. Still he fits their role as a run stopping backer.
  • CB Brandon Facyson (2 years, $6.5 million): Would have liked to see him back last year. Runs hot and cold but has some good experience and fits the scheme. Will contribute on special teams.
  • RB Ameer Abdullah (1 year, $1.7 million): He will be a key special teamed and backup again. Solid man and player at a fair price.
  • T Brandon Parker (1 year, $1.5 million): One more year of hope and one more shot to cash in on that potential. Parker is off an injury but he’s a big and athletic swing tackle. He can push Eluemunor for starting right tackle duties and back up Kolton Miller. Parker has to stay healthy though.
  • TE Jesper Horsted (re-signed): Why not? We need a Foster replacement. He should be in the mix unless he loses his job to a rookie.
  • G Netane Muti (re-signed): Signed late last year. Hurt. Let’s see it.
  • FB Jakob Johnson (1 year): Exceeded my expectations last year. A throw back full back at a cheap price.
  • S Roderic Teamer (re-signed): This guy hasn’t done much in his several stints with the team. Can’t hurt as a camp body and maybe a special teamer. Should give his reps to a player in the draft.
  • TE O.J. Howard: Low risk and high reward. He will compete with Austin Hooper for the Darren Waller or the Foster Moreau role. Vegas could also draft a tight end and down grade both vets they signed. Still, the Raiders value multiple tight end fronts. Let’s see if Howard can stick and sniff any of that potential.
  • WR Keelan Cole (1 year): I really like what the Raiders did at receiver. They added a lot of speed and will let them all compete. Cole made a few plays last year. He could contribute on special teams and fight for the fourth or fifth receiver slot.
  • TE Austin Hooper (1 year, $2.75 million): Vegas needed a vet tight end and this seems in their price range. Hooper has been really solid as a spot starter and key backup. He’s never had less than 35 catches since his rookie year. Him and Mayo should compete for a role.
  • G Alex Bars (1 year): Ended up starting last year. Deserves to be in the mix again this year but Vegas should look to upgrade in the draft.
  • WR Phillip Dorsett (1 year): Raiders camp battle for the fourth and fifth receiver
  • DT John Jenkins (1 year): A journey man.
  • CB David Long (1 year): I never like signing corners with no interceptions. He’s young and the Rams liked him. It’s another low risk and high reward for a player on the right side of 30. He should. I tribute on special teams too.
  • G/T Jermaine Elumunor (re-signed): He proved himself last year playing through injury. Eluemunor started at all four positions offensive line positions besides center. He got better as the year went on after starting the season as a backup. I like him better at guard so he doesn’t have to worry about speed. If Parker looks good, the Raiders can definitely utilize Eluemunor at guard.


  • LB Curtis Bolton (re-signed)
  • QB Brian Hoyer
  • WR Cam Sims (1 year)
  • DE Jordan Willis (1 year)
  • G Hroniss Grasu (1 year)
  • CB Duke Shelley (1 year)
  • S Jaquan Johnson (1 year)
  • Key Remaining Free Agents:
  • Anthony Averrett
  • Durin Harmon
  • Rock Ya-Sin

Raiders Free Agency Guide 2023

The Raiders have a lot of needs to figure out when free agency opens. Thus far, they have over $44 million in cap after Maxx Crosby agreed to an extension.

That comes after the re-signing of Brandon Parker and Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah is a key special teamer. He also showed some pass blocking and catching ability when he hit the field for the offense. Abdullah is a also a good leader on and off the field by all accounts.

Parker didn’t have much of a market after missing the bulk of the last two seasons. Still, the Raiders have always believed in his size and athleticism. Let’s see one more year with him competing for the swing tackle and starting tackle roles.

We know they will have a new quarterback. Finding the right signal-caller should be priority No. 1.

About one half of that cap space will go to a quarterback. That means the Raiders could make more cuts and restructures over the next few months.

At the moment, they will run it back at TE with Waller. Josh Jacobs should also be back at least for this year. Hopefully, he does not hold out after getting the franchise tag. 

Yet, Chandler Jones, Bilal Nichols, Andre James, and Brandon Boldin should all be on notice as their contracts haven’t met their play. I also wonder if Kolton Miller could restructure to give the team some added space.

Key Internal Decisions

Still, the Raiders have many key contributors hitting the open market. The offensive line featured Jermaine Eluemunor and Alex Bars. Both vets will hit the open market after earning their starting spot. They should return but they could get more money. 

Eluemunor could especially get more money if a team wants to give him starting right tackle money. Vegas signed him as a rotational and flex player last year. His value is way up since he showed he could start consistently at tackle.

Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau also saw themselves thrust-ed into bigger roles due to injuries. Hollins proved he can start but he is probably best in a third receiver role. He is great at stretching the field and getting open but needs more consistency. Moreau was solid in his starting and feature role. He was not great though either. Some team could easily splurge on them.

Don’t forget fullback Jakob Johnson. The true FB needs a new deal and his consistency deserves it.

QB Jared Stidham needs a new deal too. Stidham should come back regardless if the Raiders draft or sign another QB.

More Vets to Consider

Moving to the other side of the ball, the Raiders should prioritize Rock Ya-Sin and Duron Harmon. Harmon was the best playmaker not named Max Crosby. Ya-Sin was the most consistent defensive back until he got hurt. Both may cash out on the open market. However, they are not irreplaceable.

The decisions get a lot bit tougher after that. Denzel Perryman has put in Pro Bowl play when he is healthy. The veteran linebacker is expected to hit the open market after he failed to reach an agreement with Las Vegas.

Andrew Billings proved  he could contribute consistently. Billings did battle injuries too. There’s a scenario where both Perryman and Billings walk. However, both could get replaced with draft upgrades.

Jayon Brown was the other often injured backed. Brown’s results were more mixed. Brown has ties to the scheme through his days with the Titans. Yet, he will be fighting to stay in the league. 

The Toss Ups

Clelin Ferrell and Jerry Tillery again failed to live up to their draft status of first rounders a few years ago. Both are experienced and bring scheme versatility. They flash ability but then a mistake will undercut that. Maybe the Raiders want to see them get more time in Patrick Graham’s scheme. However, there might be other teams ready to take on a reclamation project.

Ferrell showed he could be a solid third rusher. I would have liked to see him inside more but he has to show more strength.

Tillery gets off the ball but he needs to finish as well as play more consistent. Tillery is probably more likely to return since he can play inside and he joined the Raiders midseason. Ferrell could benefit from a new fan base hoping for the best out of him.

Still, Ferrell has said he wants to stay with the Silver and Black. Meanwhile, Tillery is expected to test the market despite the Raiders wanting him back.

Did I leave someone out? Hope not! But if I did it is probably because they should be gone.

Team Needs

Either way, the Raiders have team needs at QB, OT, OG, DT, Edge, Linebacker, corner and Safety. Yes, their only steady positions are TE, RB and WR. Yet, I still wouldn’t count them out of making moves at those spots either.

Ultimately, the Raiders should prioritize quarterback. It looks like Aaron Rodgers will get traded to the Jets. And Vegas said they were out on Lamar Jackson. That leaves a free agent and a rookie as the most likely solution in Vegas.


Jimmy Garoppolo has long been my favorite for the next Raiders’ QB. He brings a blend athleticism, playoff credentials and experience in the scheme that should upgrade the Raiders spot. Garoppolo also won’t cost draft picks or a huge contract. He does come with some limitations as far as big game and injury concerns.

Other options include Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz, Drew Locke, Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston if he’s released by the Saints. All were drafted high for a reason. All have flashed but are also another bad season away from hanging it up. Out of that group, I like Mayfield or Winston the best. Winston won the job in New Orleans before injury cost him his job. Mayfield killed us only a few days after signing with the Rams. Although neither is an obvious and instant scheme fit.

The other dark horse is Jacoby Brissett. Brissett was solid for the Browns last year. He’s got experience in the Pats scheme and has showed he can compete everywhere he has been. Brissett wasn’t great as a full-time starter during his Indianapolis days. However, he could be a nice bridge guy.

Mike White also showed enough leadership poise for the Jets last year. Gardner Mishnew has been hot and cold over the years with Jacksonville and Philadelphia. Mishnew and White might not be franchise guys. However, they’re decent enough to lead a team in bridge year. Plus, they could come at a discount.

Offensive Line

After quarterback, tackle is priority one. They can find guards all through out this draft. Unless they take a tackle with their first pick, there will probably not be a ready made right tackle at the top of the second round. Even first round tackles need time for development.

Thus, that first pick should be reserved for a young QB. Even if they sign a veteran QB, Vegas should take a top QB if Anthony Richardson or CJ Stroud falls into their lap. Otherwise, it will be hard to pass on an edge rusher if one of the top guys is there and the Raiders already have a QB for now and the future. 

Not to mention, the Raiders are still feeling the effects of releasing a draft bust named Alex Leatherwood. The Raiders took him high in the first round and he only lasted a season. Vegas’ track record of selecting tackles in the second and third rounds are just as bad. Hello, Parker and David Sharpe just to name a couple.

Best options for Right Tackle

That means the Raiders should talk with Jawaan Taylor, Kaleb McGary and Mike McGlinchey. All have lots of experience starting at right tackle. They are on the right side of thirty. McGlinchey is off a bad year while Taylor is off a good one. McGary had one his best years playing both tackle spots. All could cash out this offseason.

There’s also Taylor Lewan off an injured full season or Orlando Brown who was not frachised after anchoring the left side of the Super Bowl champs. Donovan Smith is another guy with starting left tackle experience for a Championship team. It is unclear if those guys accept a RT role. Either way, the Raiders have to pay to play any top free agent tackle. 

After the big names, Vegas could bring back Eluemunor. I like him better inside so he does not have to worry about speed. Yet, he proved himself last year. His agent should bang the table for starting right tackle money.

My wild card is Isaiah Wynn. He had a bad year last year but he knows the scheme. He was drafted in the first round due to his athleticism. At worst, he pushed Thayer Munford at RT for a bargain. Andre Dillard or Greg Little would have a similar effect. Dillard has played more guard recently and Little hasn’t been great. Yet, they should upgrade the depth at the postion.

George Fant, Billy Turner, Eric Fisher, Cameron Erving or JuWaun James are some other more cost effective options. Their ceilings are limited and the Raiders have had opportunities to sign them in offseasons past. It’s hard for me to see them joining the Silver and Black.

After addressing the QB, finding a tackle to protect him should be the next priority. Especially if they invest all that money in Jacobs to carry the load on offense.

Adding One More Playmaker

Defensively, this draft is deep at all three levels. Look at the combine numbers and you will see the Raiders can make upgrades at all three levels in any round. Those added picks in the later rounds should go towards finding the high upside players. That’s why the Raiders had huge presences at both the NFL Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.

That’s why the Raiders next priority should be adding a receiver. That doesn’t mean they should spend a lot of money on a receiver. However, they should target a specific guy to replace Hollins.

The NFL Draft is deep at receiver at the top. After the first two rounds, it evens out. It’s a toss up and splitting hairs after the first round of receivers in the Draft. There’s still guys who can have impact. They just also come with some concerns or need some development.


That’s why the Raiders should prioritize adding a second or third receiver in free agency. Tyler Johnson could be that guy. However, I think it’s more likely Johnson replaces Keelan Cole as the fourth receiver with some big play upside.

The Raiders don’t have to get a huge name or major production. Considering what Robert Woods signed with the Houston Texans and last year’s market, receivers should cash out again this offense. Odell will too. I don’t expect them to make plays for Allen Lazard or Juju Smith-Schuster.

Vegas just needs to find a guy who can stretch the field at a discount. They need the receiver who is willing to take a discount because they will benefit from Adams, Waller and Renfrow eating the targets. 

Insert Hollins as that exact guy. However, he probably gets more money. Hollins could be upgraded anyways. Here’s some guys that make sense.

  • Jakobi Meyers will also get some consideration due to his 6 touchdowns in 14 games last year. Plus, he’s familiar with McDaniels and the scheme. I’d rather look at more explosive options versus big bodies.
  • Mecole Hardman would be my preferred option. He could push for starting reps as well as give the Raiders added juice on special teams. His injury history and the Chief’s other priorities in free agency should make him slip through the cracks.
  • Darius Slayton has been decent with over 700 receiving yards in three of his four seasons. He also gives the Raiders some speed on the outside.
  • Parris Campbell is another shifty receiver on the right side of thirty. Campbell had his best year last year, but he could be looking for a prove-it deal too.
  • Jalen Guyton had his worst season since his rookie year. However, he could add some speed to the Raiders receiver group.
  • Dante Pettis and Miles Boykin are some other explosive players who never lived up to their draft status but are on the right side of 30. Vegas just needs one guy willing to compete for a roleand prove themselves across from the Raiders other offensive options.

Nelson Agholor hasn’t been good since his lone season with the Raiders. He knows the team and McDaniel’s offense. However, I’d rather give his reps to someone younger.

Dj Chalk was solid when he played for Detroit last year. Robbie Anderson has been bounced around and was down last year with Arizona.

Otherwise, I’m sure we’ll hear more rumors and hype for vets like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Marvin Jones. Odell looked good injury. Jones has been a great leader in Jacksonville, despite his numbers dipping. Vegas needs someone a bit younger with more upside.

Allen Robinson could also come into play if the Raiders want a big body and the Rams release him. Robinson could come cheap for a chance to prove himself one last time.

Back to Defense

Once the Raiders have insured success for their QB by adding a tackle and receiver, they must add playmakers and athletes at each level. Yes, that means doubling up on additions in the draft at combine.

After spending much of their money at quarterback and tackle, I don’t expect them to splurge on defense for the best players. However, I expect them to add one or two big ticket items with sprinkles of young veterans looking to prove themselves. That’s pretty much what they did add Jones and Harmon while signing Anthony Averrett, Darius Phillips, Vernon Butler and more.

The Anthony Averrett test did not work due to injuries. Vegas needs a corner even if Ya-Sin returns. Nate Hobbs will probably play more safety this year. Especially if Harmon dips. 

I wouldn’t count out a move for Darius Slay or Jalen Ramsey. Both appear to be available. Both could cost a high draft pick. The Raiders should only resort to that if they can’t lock in a veteran guy at a decent price. Luckily, the draft is loaded at corner which should drive the interest in free agent corners down.

Start at Corner

At corner, Marcus Peters is my guy. I always want to see Oakland natives in Silver and Black. We know the Raiders image and logo is all inspired by the Bay. Thus, Bay folk bring attitude that matches the Raider energy. It’s tough, committed, and willing to do whatever it takes to win. Peters had a down year last year if you ask PFF or look at his stats. He got beat notably a few times and he had a career low in interceptions with only one.

Nonetheless, he recovered two fumbles and he is among the career leaders in interceptions since joining the league. Plus, Peters was coming off an injury on a Baltimore team that went through a lot of transition. The coaches son should bring a high IQ and playmaking ability that Vegas hasn’t had in years. There is no one I would rather see in the No. 24 for the Silver and Black. He should also be cheaper than some of the other big names at corner.

James Bradberry is another name that will come up. The Raiders have flirted with him in cree agency before. He knows defensive coordinator Patrick Graham from their days in New York. Bradberry is also off a Super Bowl with the Eagles.

Yet, he’s about to be 30 and only has one career interception in 100 starts. Thus, why I’d invest the money in Peters over him and maybe even Ya-Sin. The Raiders need a ball hawk.

Jonathan Jones will also get some consideration. He is off his best season with four interceptions in 16 starts. The versatile DB could be a nice replacement if Harmon is not retained. He is 30 with 11 career interceptions. His limited amount of starts would be my only hesitation signing him.

Cameron Sutton is another guy who fits the scheme off his best season. The Raiders have also looked at him in the past. He’d be my darkhorse if the Raiders get priced out of any of the guys below since he is younger than all of them.

Eli Apple is only 27 and played at a high level despite some infamous mistakes. However, he’s been there and done that in Vegas. He might also cash out as one of the corners with the most upside in the frre agency market. Byron Murphy is another guy the Raiders will probably get outbid on.

Some other experienced options over the age of 30 include:

  • Bradley Roby
  • Anthony Brown
  • William Jackson
  • Ronald Darby
  • Troy Hill
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Bryce Callahan

Still, the Raiders would probably pass since they’ve had opportunities to get those players in free agency past. They’re better off drafting someone unless the price is really cheap. Mike Hughes or Tre Flowers might be a better cheap and young option to roll the dice on. They should only resort to one of the lesser options after the draft.

After the Raiders sign a veteran corner, they still may add one in the draft. They can find someone to push for starting roles in the third or fourth round of a deep defensive backfield class. Vegas should also add a safety, particularly if they lose Harmon.

More life, more defensive help

Linebacker should be the next position as the Raiders will most likely lose both starters. Micah Kiser will probably not get retained either. Overall, this is one of the deepest free agency LB classes in years.

Of course, we can always hope for Tremaine Edmunds. However, Edmunds should be one of the first defensive dominoes to fall. It’s rare that elite linebackers with elite athleticism hit free agency before age 25. Vegas is better off looking at other options.

  • Germaine Pratt is my favorite due to his experience in coverage and contributing for a contending team the last two seasons. There are also rumors that the two share mutual interest. He is under 30 and should look to prove himself after the Bengals could not agree to terms with him.
  • David Long also has some ties to the Raiders scheme after his breakout year with the Titans last year. He’s had two picks in each of the last two seasons, despite playing less than a full season. He would also upgrade the Raiders linebacker group versus the pass.
  • Kyzir White and TJ Edwards both also finished breakout seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles last year. White is a converted safety with experience playing all over the second level. Edwards started all 17 games for Philly.
  • Drue Tranquill broke out with the Chargers last year. He finished the year with 5 sacks, 146 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception in his first full year as the starter. Tranquill has shown his versatility at LB over the years in Vegas. He makes sense if the price is right.
  • Lavonte David is another name who will come up. Despite his age at 32, he was great in coverage again last year. If the price is right why not? He has only finished with less than 90 tackles once in his career. David has also played in different schemes.
  • Same goes for Eric Kendricks who was recently released. Kendricks is a bit younger than David but doesn’t have Super Bowl experience. The California Native can still bring some experience to the Raiders second level. He is also scheme versatile and has only finished with less 100 tackles once. Kendricks is more of a liability in coverage these days but the Raiders can deal with that if he can shutdown the run.
  • Otherwise, why not take a flier on Devin Bush. Bush hasn’t been the same since he got hurt in 2020. However, he fits the scheme and was first round pick for a reason.

After that, we move into the territory of guys the Raiders could have signed or traded for in the last couple of free agencies. That makes the Raiders signing them unlikely even if it makes sense.

  • Leighton Vander Esch is another guy with a high draft pedigree under the age of 30. He also has scheme versatility to upgrade the Raiders linebacker corps.
  • Deion Jones’ career also started off hot and cooled down more recently. However, he still finished with 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception after getting traded to the Browns midseason.
  • Kwon Alexander is almost 30 and he hasn’t looked great the past two seasons in New Orleans or New York. Still, the Raiders could kick the tires on the veteran.
  • Kyle Van Noy also looked great in hybrid roles over the years. He might make sense from a leadership, Championship experience and versatility standpoint. He also knows McDaniels from the Pats days. His five sacks last year were at Chandler Jones’ level.
  • Rashaan Evans had his best season in 2022. He finished with over 150 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He is scheme versatile with connections to a Tennessee defense that is similar to the Raiders.
  • Mack Wilson is only 25. He’s never been great but those Browns and Patriots ties make it easy to see the Raiders giving him a look.
  • Zach Cunningham has also never been what people expected him to be in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, he has tons of starting experience at both inside linebacker spots for similar defenses in Tennessee and Houston.
  • Damien Wilson and Jarrad Davis are some journeymen who might also get a look.

Again, both the free agency and draft class are filled with linebackers. The Raiders should add two to three linebackers this offseason. It doesn’t matter how that breaksdown between the draft and free agency.

All those options are why linebacker is so far down on this list. These options also show why the Raiders were not willing to pay Perryman or keep some of the other linebackers from last year’s roster.

Defensive Line

Now, we move to the defensive line. One could argue this might be the Raiders biggest need. However, they invested a lot in the daft last year. I can see them adding more defensive linemen in the draft.

They should add a premium pass rusher in the top of the second round. One of the top pass rushers will fall into the second round.

The athleticism of Byron Young, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Derick Hall, Isaiah Foskey, KJ Henry, Will McDonald, Lukas Van Ness, Nolan Smith, Zach Harrison, Keion White, and Tuli Tuipulotu are going to be hard to pass up in those second or third rounds.

Nick Hampton, Lonnie Phelps, DJ Johnson, Ali Gaye, Andre Carter II, and KJ Henry could make sense there or even later. Thus, the Raiders can invest free agency resources into other spots besides edge. They can look to add to the linebacker and secondary before they sign some bargains along the defensive line.

Of course, I wouldn’t rule out adding another veteran edge rusher. However, Jones will serve that role. Especially, if the Raiders draft a high end athlete who might need some more development.

So if the Raiders can find someone to take Jones’ contract, I could see them adding a Melvin Ingram, Carlos Dunlap, Justin Houston, Robert Quinn, Jadevon Clowney, or Robert Quinn type. It’s gotta be cheap and late in the offseason for them to do that. Otherwise, I don’t see them breaking the bank for Marcus Davenport, Zach Allen, Leonard Floyd, Dante Fowler, DeMarcus Walker, Samson Ebukam, Arden Key, Frank Clark, Yannick Ngakoue or anyone like that.

Interior D-Line

A lot of folks have the Raiders targeting Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. It’s going to tough for Philly to keep both. Hargrave registered 11 sacks playing only 64% of the Eagles snaps. Cox is 32 but still finished last year with 7 sacks playing about 2/3 of the Eagles snaps. Both are scheme versatile and can play across the interior line.

It’s hard for me to see the Raiders affording either if they want to add multiple free agents. Cox is probably more likely because he will be cheaper. Here are some interior options I like better for a better price.

  • Greg Gaines has had 8.5 sacks combined over the past two seasons as an interior lineman. He tore up the Raiders in their regular season matchup. Gaines would add some bulk and length upfront. He might also be too pricey and the Rams should look to keep him.
  • Dalvin Tomlinson doesn’t have the same pass rush abilitity as some of these other guys. However, he played for Patrick Graham in New York. He knows the scheme and would bring more of a true NT role to Vegas. Tomlinson might be in the Raiders budget.
  • David Onyemata finished last year with 5 sacks. The 6-4 300 pound lineman could add some bulk and pass rush to the interior line. He is closer to 30 which means his price could also be in the Raiders range.
  • Dre’Mont Jones fits the Raiders if they’re looking for more flexibility to move from tackle to edge. Jones had his best year with 6.5 sacks, 9 TFL and 10 QB hits in 13 starts. It also helps he knows the division.
  • Taven Bryan is another interior linemen who might slip through the cracks. He signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Browns last year. It paid off with him delivering 3 sacks in his first full season as a starter. Bryan is only 27 and also would upgrade the Raiders length inside. However, Vegas could’ve signed him last year.

Here’s some other guys who the Raiders could consider at bargains.

  • Larry Ogunjobi
  • Akiem Hicks
  • Poona Ford
  • Jordan Phillips
  • Sheldon Rankins
  • Jarran Reed
  • Rasheem Green
  • A’Shawn Robinson

Again, I don’t think they’ll sign any of them because they could have signed them in last year’s free agency or the free agency before.

Back to the Secondary

The Raiders’ safety position could also use some talent. It is loaded in free agency and the draft. You already heard the John Johnson rumors. The only thing that scares me about that move is the LaMarcus Joyner days. We don’t need anymore former Rams safeties. Of course, Johnson is bigger than Joyner and can play both safety spots.

Honestly, this should be a higher priority. However, there is so much talent on the open market and the draft.

Trevon Moehrig improved once the Raiders got rid of John Abram. I think he’ll improve if he can stay healthy all offseason.

Vegas should also bring back Harmon if his price is not too high. That means they might not have the money to bit on Jessie Bates III or Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. I think Philly should also keep CGJ after trading a pick to get him last offseason.

  • Bates III would actually fit the scheme well. He also brings good playoff experience from the Bengals. Bates offers enough size and range to play either safety spots. His 4 interceptions last year were a career high. However, Bates price is going to be very high. The Raiders would have to target him right away. And they might not want to spend all that money in one place.
  • Jordan Poyer could bring versatility to the Raiders secondary. Poyer said he wants to go to a state with less taxes and Vegas checks that box. There’s also some similarities in the Raiders defense to the Bills. Poyer registered 9 interceptions combined over the last two seasons. He’s had multiple interceptions every season since 2017. Yet, Poyer too might be too rich for the Raiders.
  • Vonn Bell turned out a career year last year with 4 interceptions for the Bengals. The 29-year-old might not be a priority for the Bengals considering all the players they need to pay. Bell is more of a box safety but he has experience playing all over the secondary. He could also be a bit more affordable than some of the other names mentioned.
  • Julian Love is another safety fans love due to his ties to Graham with the Giants. The 25-year-old is off his best season. Love registered 2 interceptions, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and over 100 tackles for the Giants last year.
  • Juan Thornhill is also hitting the market after a career year. He finished last season with 3 interceptions, 1 sack and 71 tackles. He has the speed and size to play deep safety or inside. However, he’s probably best over the top. Thornhill is turning 28 next season. Signing him would also weaken a division foe.
  • Taylor Rapp’s career has been a mixed back. However, he’s had six interceptions and 12 passes defended over his last two years as a full starter. Rapp can also play both safety spots.
  • Nasir Adderley is also striking while the iron is hot. Adderly had a career high two interceptions. The Chargers have other free agent priorities so Adderley might be free for a change of scenery. He can play both safety spots but he’s really a true free safety.
  • Deshon Elliott played both safety positions for Detroit last year. He turned in 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and 3 passes defended in 13 starts. Detroit will probably try to keep him since it was his first season with Detroit. Otherwise, he may end up signing a one-year deal to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.

The Raiders priority should be adding a safety who is under 30 with some proven production. Luckily, the safety class is deep enough that they can probably find that in the second or third wave of free agency. If they miss on the top free agents, there’s always safeties that slip through the cracks late.

  • Adrian Amos has experience playing both safety spots. He had a down year with Green Bay as far as coverage and statistics. Amos turns 30 before next season. He could be a nice bargain though.
  • Same goes for Eric Rowe. Rowe has played all over the secondary over his career with the Eagles, Patriots and Dolphins. He played more box safety again last year. Rowe would bring some depth the to the Raiders if they need a veteran presence.
  • Rodney McLeod is a bit older. He bounced back with the Colts last year. McLeod finished the year with 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended and over 90 tackles. He’s also played more box safety recently. That’s why I don’t think it’s likely the Raiders add him unless they want to push Moehrig with a cheap bridge guy.
  • Kareem Jackson and Tony Jefferson are some other vets who have seen better days but could bring competition and leadership to the Raiders secondary.

These guys could be worth signing on athleticism, age and upside only:

  • Marcus Allen
  • Terrell Edmunds
  • Jabril Peppers

Still, Vegas is better off adding a proven vet or drafting a player with upside.

More Moves and Considerations

If you’ve read this far, then you are either really bored or care what I think.

Ultimately, Vegas should add a QB and RT in the first wave of free agency.

Jimmy G. was always the best contingency plan after Lamar Jackson or Aaron Rodgers. Garoppolo can get the Raiders to the playoffs even if he can’t finish the job. He’s the perfect affordable bridge option if the Raiders are really not considering giving up draft picks for Jackson or Rodgers.

Garroppolo’s ceiling also means the Raiders can’t put on drafting a QB for the future right now too. Thus, they have to prioritize protecting the QB with free agency since there might not be a starting tackle available in the second round.

Otherwise, they could bring back Stidham and have him compete with Brissett for bridge duties alongside whoever the Raiders draft.

Free Agency Opens This Week

Assuming Jimmy and a RT sign for about a $20 million cap hit each that eats up most of the Raiders available cap space. Sprinkle in a third receiver around the $5 million mark and most of the Raiders cap space disappears after the first wave of free agency.

They can create more room by cutting James, cutting Bolden, trading Nichols, restructuring Miller, trading Jones, cutting Justin Herron, negotiating a better deal with Jacobs, waiving Malcolm Koonce, and waiving Divine Deablo. Assuming they can pull those moves off that’s anywhere from and additional $5-32 million in cap room.

Some of that can go towards keeping Harmon and adding a cheap WR with upside. After that they can add Peters and Pratt for under $10 million each. That leaves some wiggle room for the bargain bin on the interior line and secondary.

They could divide the remaining $10 million or so to add a safety for anywhere from the vet minimum to $6-7 million. Vegas could also add a starter on the defensive line for about the same price tag. Of course, that depends on another team taking Jones’ contract, age and injury history.

There’s also a scenario where the Raiders don’t bid on the elite right tackles in the class. Instead they get someone young with upside like Wynn and roll the additional cap to sign more defensive help.

Who should the Raiders actually sign?

The Raiders could do a lot worse than a free agency hall of Jimmy G., Marcus Peters, Germaine Pratt, Dalvin Tomlinson, Isaiah Wynn, Nasir Adderley or Jimmy Johnson, and Mecole Hardman.

Depending on how much additional room they can create and what they negotiate, they could do all that and keep Harmon and Tillery.

They could also trade Renfrow or Waller and open up an additional $5-17 million in cap space. It’s not that far out there to see the Raiders free up another $10-40 million in cap space between now and the draft. However, that would create an additional free agency or draft need.

Vegas could easily find players to fill the Renfrow and Waller roles in the mid rounds. The TE class is deep this draft. Meanwhile, the receivers class features a lot of mid round players with good upside. They will need some development but so did Renfrow and Waller.

Otherwise, Mike Gesicki, Irv Smith Jr. and Gerald Everett could be cheaper pass catching tight ends if the Raiders move on from Waller. However, they remain committed to him this offseason by all accounts.

The point is, the Raiders have a lot they can do in free agency this offseason. The plan could totally shift if they stepup and make a play for Rodgers or Jackson. At that point, added a right tackle becomes even more important to protect that big investment in the backfield.

2022 eulogy and moving forward in the 2023 offseason

The NFL Combine just passed which means it’s time to turnover a new page. Last season is done and the new year is right around the corner. The NFL Free Agency and Draft are right around the corner. Teams are putting up smoke and mirrors to hide their key targets. Before we get to that, let’s wrap up one of the craziest years.

2022 Season Eulogy

The 2022 season ended as weird as it started. We entered the season feeling like a real contender. This was the first offseason where I feel like all the Raiders needs were addressed. There were some red flags left along the offensive line but development should have solved those.

It never really came together but the offense figured it out and made do. At times, it felt like Josh Jacobs was busting off runs in spite of his line. Other times it felt like Davante Adams was making plays in spite of not getting the ball enough. It was a weird season where the Raiders had individuals thriving but it never came together.

Derek Carr

Like it or hate it, the 2022 season will be remembered as Carr’s last. The long-time Raider was benched, exiled from the team and eventually cut.

Fast forward less than a month and Carr signs with the New Orleans Saints. It’s the same Saints that shut him down in the regular season.

At least he signs with a team that is in a weak division. He also reunites with his first head coach Dennis Allen. New Orleans has some great skill players and some talent on defense. However, they got some age and cap concerns.

To be decided if Carr pans out in New Orleans. It’s still wild he signed with the team that the Raiders were going to trade him to. Carr also did not wait for any of the other QB dominoes to fall. It feels like he gave the Raiders a big middle finger on his way out by not letting them collect a pick. It’s a sad way to end.

So much for spending his life a Raider

I don’t know if it’s fair to put that all on Derek Carr. Carr holds all the franchise QB records. He is probably the most successful passer selected by the Raiders. It’s not his fault the team did not move on sooner when we all knew he was not the answer.

Still, Carr should have never chose to stay away. You take that benching like a man, especially as a captain.

It was crazy to see Carr subdiss himself at the Pro Bowl. It was wild to see him wearing blank gear with no Raiders logos. He is definitely using the Pro Bowl as a free agent combine. The team finally gave him permission to seek a trade right before. He looked great in the flag football showcase because there was no pressure

Carr could honestly have a Rich Gannon second act anywhere he goes. New Orleans has a solid offensive line and some receivers with great catch radius. Carr can throw with the best of them on air. It’s the pass rush and those big moments that sometimes get to him.

The Next QB

Moving forward, the Raiders have a lot to figure out at QB. There’s been a ton of rumors. The most likely scenario is running it back with Jarrett Stidham and praying CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson falls to them in the draft.

Stroud has been called one of the most pro ready prospects in this draft. He has the right blend of collegiate success, athleticism and raw arm talent. Anthony Richardson put a show on at the Combine. He set records for both jumps. Richardson needs refinement but his ceiling is as high as anyone in the draft. Richardson only started 13-games at Florida.

Of course, trading is not out of the question. Vegas might not have to if Lamar Jackson keeps having issues with Baltimore.

Lamar Jackson?

If the Raiders have any chance at getting Lamar Jackson, you make the deal. Doesn’t matter the cost. He’s a generational player and the sort of star Vegas covets.

However, Jackson wants a lot of guaranteed money. That means the Raiders would have to punt guys like Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. They might have to skip re-signing Josh Jacobs too. Vegas tagging Jacobs automatically eats over $10M in cap space. Jacobs may want more too.

Either way, I’m not sure Lamar Jackson on last year’s Raiders is any better than a second round team. I don’t want to take anything away from Jackson but injuries derailed his last two seasons. He has to go through Pat Mahomes and Joe Burrow to get out the AFC. We just haven’t seen those matchups due to Jackson’s health. Either way, it is unclear if the Raiders beat those teams in the postseason even with Jackson

How about Tom Brady?

Same goes for Brady. Maybe adding the veteran helps the Raiders win some of those close games. Will it add to postseason success though?

Besides, what is Brady really playing for? It’s not rings, money, proving anything, awards, branding or family. There’s no doubt in my mind Brady can play but does he really want to learn a new city and team? Same questions are even bigger for Aaron Rodgers, even if the Raiders have his guy Davante Adams.

Moreover, Brady is cool but what is the cost. It makes no sense to bring in a QB who is almost 50 if you can’t afford to keep the same caliber weapons.

Guess we don’t have to worry about that scenario since dude retired.

Aaron Rodgers

The other scenario we obviously need to monitor is Aaron Rodgers. It seems like Davante Adams and him are having fun with RaiderNation teasing the possibility.

Obviously, a reunion would be great. It also helps that the Packers would have to pay most of his contract if they trade him. They also have his replacement in the fold which means the compensation won’t be as high.

The Jets are thought to be the favorite since their OC has ties to Rodgers. Both teams would be ideal trade partners for Green Bay since their in the NFC.

Still, it’s been years since Rodgers got to the Super Bowl. There are questions about his commitment to learning a new receiver room again. I am not against trading for Rodgers but would he really wanna work with Josh McDaniels?

McDaniels already shutdown the prospect at the combine by saying he wants a QB to work with for more than just a year or two. It might not be up to McDaniels. He could’ve been lying. Either way, Rodgers seems less likely to play in Silver and Black as those talks have gotten a lot more quiet.


It’s that time of the year where every available flirts with the Raiders for leverage. The Silver and Black have a great fan base that’s easy to tease. Here’s a big move folks are getting their hopes up for.

I’m sure you saw those Jalen Ramsey and Max Crosby photos at the Pro Bowl. Ramsey would instantly upgrade the Raiders secondary. A move back to deep safety could also pro long his career in Vegas and capitalize on his playmaking ability.

Again, it will depend on what the Rams want but at the right price of course we want Ramsey. Raiders just need to figure out a few other things in the process. Plus, if Davis really likes stars go get them.

Back to those trade rumors

Early in the offseason, it was rumored the Raiders could move Renfrow and Waller. Both battled injuries and were successes of the previous regime. Each recently signed an extension. Josh again killed those by speaking highly of them at the combine.

Still, it makes sense to move Waller given his cap number, availability and value on the market. The Raiders need to find cap somewhere. Waller is one of the best players at his position. Remember those rumors of trading him to Green Bay for second? Plus, Vegas is also sniffing around Rob Gronkowski. Waller could get some valuable Draft compensation or help secure a big name QB.

Renfrow on the other hand, isn’t as valuable. He also is a little younger and cheaper. I’m in favor of keeping him if Vegas can add a high-ceiling veteran or rookie with speed to stretch the field. Mack Hollins was cool this year but he might find more money from another team.

All in all, if the Raiders are going to re-tool or rebuild moving Waller and Renfrow makes sense. The challenge is finding guys to replace them so the next quarterback can be setup to succeed.

The future of Qb

Again, Part of me is sad to see the dude who holds so many Raiders passing records discarded like trash. More of me is satisfied to finally have closure.

Derek Carr was never the problem in Vegas. So many things changed and failed around him. And yet, he was never the solution either. Carr is a good player who can win some games and make some teammates better. I just don’t think he’s a great player who can put the team on his back. We have 8 years of data that proves that.

Personally, I’d like to just bit the bullet and draft a QB. Whether CJ Stroud or Anthony Richardson falls to the Raiders, both could develop into nice QBs. Then Vegas can add a veteran like Jacoby Brissett or Jimmy G.

Either way, what compensation they get for Carr mattered. There were rumors the Raiders could get a first or second round draft pick. The Saints, Commanders and Dolphins all have staff members tied to Carr. A team like Carolina or Houston could also use him as a bridge guy. New Orleans would have to make some moves to have the cap. The Dolphins seem set on Tua. The New York Jets will go after Aaron Rodgers. It sucks that Carr ended all that by saying he’d veto a trade.

In the end, Carr could have gotten traded for a second or third along with a late pick. Vegas could invest that in a pass rusher, db, receiver or offensive lineman. Instead, he left the Raiders hanging.

Maybe he did that to help his new team not give up picks. Perhaps he wanted more room to negotiate a contract. Maybe he just wanted to visit different teams. Regardless, at least it’s over and the Raiders know they need to find a QB for now and the future.

Speaking of hard decisions

Vegas has a lot to figure out. Andrew Billings and Denzel Perryman flashed. Both are free agents and not exact scheme fits.

Rock Ya-Sin and Mack Hollins were brought in last year. Both exceeded expectations in their own way. Will Vegas try to keep one or both?

Duron Harmon ended up being more than a special teamer and locker room guy. The Raiders need playmakers but does Harmon want to stick around?

Clelin Ferrell still hasn’t become the player we want or need. He did have his best year by showing his versatility and quickness. He needs to add some strength to play inside or more Bend for the outside. At this point, both Ferrell and the Raiders could use a change. However, I can see him coming back for one more year if the price is right. Jerry Tillery is in a similar spot.

Jermaine Eluemunor and Alex Bars also stepped up for the Raiders o-line. Eluemunor was a steady force on the line all season. Vegas need o-linemen but they could also use some upgrades. Remains to be seen what they do there.

And we haven’t even got to Josh Jacobs who is off his best season. Jacobs could command over $12 million a year. He deserves it given how far he has come.

Yet, we all know RBs don’t usually taper off in that second contract. Vegas could find cheaper options in a loaded free agency class. Plus, the draft always has a combination of backs.

Vegas can also save some money moving starting center Andre James. James has been solid the past two years but they could use that $5 million in cap space if they want to snag another star. This draft class is loaded with interior linemen across the board.

Defensive lineman Bilal Nichols is in a similar spot. Nichols played inside and out. He got better as the year went on. Nichols is a consistent rusher but needs to do more against the run. Vegas can save half his contract by cutting him or over $5 million by trading him after June. Those dollars add up if the Raiders really want to transform their roster.

They could also try and move Chandler Jones. It’s unclear if age or all those injuries caught up to Jones. He gets into position but can’t execute with the same explosion as years past. Good luck finding anyone to take that contract.

Ultimately, the Raiders have a lot of things to figure out this offseason. Let’s see what the Raiders decision makers actually decide to do.

If it were up to me…

We’d all love the Raiders to get Jalen, Aaron Rodgers, Tremaine Edmunds and still somehow end up with DeAndre Hopkins. We’ll get to free agency later but the Raiders must first figure out what players they keep from hitting the open market.

Ultimately, Eleumunor and Rock-Ya Sin were steady at positions filled with turmoil. Harmon brought play making to a defense that needed it. Those should be the biggest priorities outside of Jacobs.

Luckily, Jacobs can get tagged. He may hold out on the Franchise Tag but the Raiders can’t let him get away. No matter how stack the draft and free agency is with running backs, the Raiders must let Jacobs prove last year was not a fluke.

After that, I could see Eleumunor, Ya-Sin and Harmon getting bigger deals on the open market. If the price is right, all three could be back.

Andrew Billings and Denzel Perryman also warrant consideration. The veterans proved they an adapt to schemes despite battling injuries. Still, Vegas could upgrade both positions with youth and durability that naturally fits their scheme.

Tillery and Ferell will probably try to reclaim their careers elsewhere. James should get his walking papers due to the depth in the interior offensive line in the draft. Same goes for Nichols on the other side of the ball.

If they an find someone to take Jones, do that too. Even if it costs them draft capital or part of the contract, the Raiders can find more impact cheaper.

Waller should only get moved for the right price. Bars should go much like James.

Moving on to the Combine

The Combine doesn’t have the same meaning as a decade or even five years ago. It’s still an important part of the process.

First, it’s a lot of access for teams to make trades and talk to a lot of players at once. Second, players must compete amongst the best from their position after long days of interviews and traveling. Teams want to see how players rise to the occasion.

Vegas met with several quarterbacks and many other players as did many other teams. Overall, there’s the elite guys in this class. Then it’s much closer to a toss up after the top-10. Check out your favorite draft rankings and you will see variance among where many players land.

Overall, a lot of the safeties, defensive line and linebackers made themselves some money with good 40-times. The good news, the Raiders should find some athleticism and play making to upgrade each level of their defense.

Again, A-Rich really put himself into top-10 pick consideration based off athleticism alone. Running backs moved into the first couple of rounds with great times. The offensive line also had their fair share of athleticism. Tackles in this class need to do more to show their strength and leverage. However, they move and run well.

The Combine re-affirmed the Raiders drafting a QB early. They can find talent and depth at many other positions later on. The defensive strength of the draft also puts less pressure on the Raiders hitting home runs in free agency. I still think they should prioritize adding an offensive tackle since there aren’t a ton ready to start right away in the NFL Draft. Plus, the Raiders should have learned from their last experiment reaching at tackle.

Raiders versus Steelers and getting the Pats off our back

The Raiders play an old time rival in the Steelers this week. Unfortunately, Steelers legend Franco Harris died this week. That should give Pittsburgh some extra will in a must win.

It is also going to be cold. We know Derek Carr doesn’t always play well in the cold.

Expect a heavy dose of Davante Adams. He is also a mismatch and good luck tackling him in the cold. Same for Darren Waller. Expect him to have a similar impact as last game. Carr will rely on his safety blankets in Pittsburgh.

On defense, the Raiders must harrass Kenny Pickett. Maxx Crosby didn’t register a sack and neither did Chandler Jones. Hopefully, that changes this week. They also have to wrap up on Najee Harris. Don’t let him break anything off. Denzel Perryman needs another big game.

Versus the Patriots, the Raiders squeezed out a win thanks to a turnover. Some of it was luck and some of it was stupidity by the other team. Either way, we will take it over a team we have not beat in damn near twenty years.

Vegas still needs some help to make the playoffs. It won’t matter if they lose this game. Pittsburgh is favored by 2.5 points, which is not a lot at home. It’s honestly a toss up because you never know what Raiders team you will get.

The Steelers are young but they have speed on the outside. That could make it a long day for the Raiders secondary.

Vegas also can not make it easy with penalties and turnovers again. If the Raiders can execute and minimize miscues they should come out victorious.

The good news is the Raiders will get their guards back as well as Andrew Billings. Billings is going to be needed versus the run. He should also perform better with a smaller role, since the supporting cast is playing better. The Raiders also need their guards back versus a physical Steeler o-line.

Honestly, expect this to be an old school game. Both offenses may make big plays but the team that controls the clock and creates turnovers will win and keep their season going one more week.

Raiders versus Pats: Recovering from last week and beating New England

What kind of team cuts all their guards? The Raiders do. This is the same team that loses to a hobbled Super Bowl Champion led by a QB fresh off another team. Don’t forget it was a defacto home game packed with Raiders fans, yet Vegas still lost.

Many Rams fans left before their team’s game-winning drive. Most sat quiet as they got heckled by Raiders fans. Until, chants of “Bakkkeeerrr…” hit the concourse on the route out.

Underwhelming Expectations

Anyways, the Raiders playoff prospects are basically dead. They sit in a three-way tie for 10th place. A win over the Patriots could keep them treading water but a loss helps their draft pick. Depends how you look at it but Josh McDaniels should want to beat his old team. It’s also a home game and the fans deserve better than the collapse we got at SoFi.

Not scoring 20 points again will not cut it. McDaniels is supposed to be an offensive mind and he has every tool he could want. He might even get Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller back which gives the offense even less excuses.

The Guard Situation

Back to the offensive line. Seeing John Simpson get cut was surprising. Simpson started the last two seasons and started this season at left guard. He didn’t play bad in his limited action but quickly fell out of the offensive line rotation. He came back into the fold at right guard after Alex Bars got hurt. Bars isn’t great but he was getting better as the season went on.

Simpson did not look good against the Rams. He got caught leaning, turning his shoulder, playing high and not punching well. Simpson did do some solid things in the run game as far as pulling and getting to the next level. He did not get enough push though.

Rams DL Greg Gaines is an underrated defensive lineman though. He gave he entire group problems. Simpson also plays better on the left side.

Vegas also cut guard Lester Cotton. Cotton took many first team reps in the offseason. He entered the season starting at right guard. Cotton was hurt and he hasn’t played in weeks so it was also a bit surprising. Bars went on IR so he will probably miss the rest of the season.

The Raiders also added guard Netane Muti. Muti did not play much in Denver and he was mid in previous seasons per PFF. We’ll see how much time the Raiders give him but he is big and strong. He should add some push to the unit at the very least.

Questions facing both lines the rest of the season

Jermaine Eluemunor probably moves inside to guard and the Raiders start Thayer Munford at tackle. Eluemunor has been limited in practice due to injuries but he should actually play better at guard. He won’t be as limited by his speed and feet. He will have to play with more leverage.

Munford looked solid when he made his last start. He will need to keep showing consistency with extended playing time.

On the defensive line, there s a chance Andrew Billings returns. That should help the Raiders run defense. Chandler Jones finally broke the sack seal and hopefully he keeps that going versus the team he won a Championship with earlier in his career. Clelin Ferrell is looking solid as the defacto sixth man. Bilal Nichols is finally getting home. Jerry Tillery is getting upfield. All of them could be a little more consistent, especially as they play for roles in Vegas or elsewhere next year.

Overall, the Raiders have some questions to answer along both lines. Is Nichols worth his price tag next year? Can Tillery and Ferrell stay on the field? Can Jones keep getting to the quarterback in his 30s? Will Billings keep progressing to earn himself a payday?

What will the offensive line look like after this season? Can Andre James keep progressing? Can Kolton Miller make the jump to elite? Will Dylan Parham improve his technique? Are either of the players on the right side in plans beyond this season?

Rebounding versus the Pats

Nobody wants to lose to the Pats. We know the history between these teams. New England has been smoking the Raiders every time they play since the tuck rule. Vegas hired an apprentice at the head coach and head personnel roles to scale that winning culture to the Raiders. Results have been mixed to say the least.

Either way, Josh McDaniels wants to win this game whether he admits it or not. The Patriots defense is tough and highly ranked. Their pass rush, led by Matthew Judon, could give the banged up Raiders problem. This game should obviously start and stop with Josh Jacobs. They also need to find ways to keep Davante Adams in the gameplan. That means more quick passes to let Tae create after the catch.

The Raiders defense has been improving. A lot of that is improved play from the role players along the defensive line. Maxx Crosby also continues to look like one of the best players in the game.

Vegas needs to stop the run and play discipline in coverage. The Raiders are good in spurts but they can struggle getting off the field. They can get beat deep or give up a bad penalty that keeps an offense on the field. Their own offense can also be streaky. They don’t always capitalize on big plays or good field position. The Raiders offense is not great in the zone so that puts the defense in tough spots.

If the Raiders can get pressure and protect their own quarterback it should be a close game. If they can do that and control the game with their run game they should walk away with a victory. A turnover or two created by the defense should also help. Some big plays from the offense will help too.

Hopefully, Vegas asserts their will and identity. Otherwise, it could get ugly if the Raiders offensive line is shake and struggles to create lanes. It could also get bad if they don’t stop the run and let the Pats offense pick them apart.

A win here proves the Raiders are willing to fight for their season and their head coach. I get tired of asking the team to play for pride every year but often times that is all we have to play for. This team isn’t quite at that point yet but they are not far. Many of these guys are playing for contracts here or to prove they can stay in this league.

Obviously a win over his old boss should give McDaniels some confidence. It would also be nice if the Raiders could finally Just Win Baby over the Patriots again.

Raiders Vs. Rams: How Vegas can get first real regular season win in SoFi

Finally, the Raiders looked like the team we hoped they would be versus the Chargers. The wins over the Broncos and Seahawks were ugly. This one did not start great but it did not come down to the last play.

Vegas disrupted Justin Herbert often. They stuck with the run early and late. Even when results were mixed, the Raiders stuck with their gameplan. Derek Carr wasn’t perfect but he converted strategic shots that helped the team catchup and pull away. The Raiders are on a three game winning streak and they deserve credit for that.

Even in the scheme of bad Chargers offensive lines, I’ve never seen the Los Angeles offensive line play so bad. It’s hard to tell if the Raiders success stems from their own growth or the Chargers lack of talent. Either way, they are starting to build momentum after playing two of their best games this season over the last two weeks. I’ll start believing they turned over a new leaf if they can dominate another winnable matchup in the Rams, with only a few days rest. Hopefully, Chandler Jones’ 3 sacks versus the Chargers was not a fluke. Let’s see if Jerry Tillery and Clelin Ferrell can build on last week too. They did face a really inexperienced offensive line on a Chargers offense that was down key receivers.

Either way, shout out to Tillery for making some plays versus his old team. I was worried with Andrew Billings out. However, Tillery added some get off, length and gap penetration. Of course, the interior run defense wasn’t the same without Billings. Yet, the pocket collapsed from the inside more last week. Let’s see the interior line keep it up on Thursday Night.

As for the offensive line, it was not their best game of the year. They got mixed up on some stunts. It would also be great if they could get more push on their double teams.

Jermaine Eluemunor looked good. He did a better job keeping his feet alive, staying balanced and using leverage. Khalil Mack did not break the box score. They did their best to neutralize the elite rusher. Otherwise, Carr and Jacobs really did the line a lot of favors. There honestly should’ve been more sacks and negative plays.

Regardless, the important thing is the Raiders did not get swept by the Chargers. They made up grown versus their AFC West foe and moved two spots up in the AFC playoff race. Vegas is in the tenth spot, two games behind the Jets for the final playoff spot.

The Raiders will not have much time to celebrate their wins. They play L.A.’s other team in SoFi on Thursday. Expect a full Raiders Nation takeover with the Rams down their starting quarterbacks. The Rams signed Baker Mayfield who has had success versus the Raiders before. He is also fresh.

Still, this is the Raiders game to lose. Davante Adams will face off versus Jalen Ramsey but the Vegas passing game should still find an advantage with Aaron Donald out. Bobby Wagner had an amazing game last week versus his old team. He could be huge in this game, especially if Josh Jacobs is not a hundred percent. Still, the Raiders gotta get some surge versus the Rams front before they worry about Wagner or the backers. Greg Gaines can give the interior line some problems and Leonard Floyd still offers enough length and speed to gibe the Raiders tackles issues.

Los Angeles did show some life with Cam Akers back. The Raiders will need to stay discipline as the Rams should run the ball. Vegas should also expect some trickery from the Home team that is struggling to move the ball. TuTu Atwell had his best game at receiver last week. Van Jefferson can also make plays at receiver. It’s not a lot but enough for the Rams to give the Raiders inconsistent secondary problems. Double true if Rock Ya-Sin remains out.

Overall, this is a winnable game for the Raiders. That’s also what makes it scary. How many times have we seen the Raiders lose to teams they should beat?

If Josh McDaniels wants to prove he is building Rome, he needs to show he can win winnable games. Beating division foes and winning in OT is great but winners beat the teams their supposed team. Vegas can not make it easy for the Rams to hang around with penalties and turnovers.

The Raiders should come out aggressive again on defense. They need to attack whoever plays QB. Our defense will also get tested versus Cam Akers.

Vegas needs to take what they want on offense. Push the ball down the field when necessary but stick to feeding Jacobs as much as possible. If the Raiders can execute, they should leave their second home with a win. That will give them a fourth-straight win headed into a matchup with the Patriots. Not only is that McDaniels’ former team, but the Pats are on spot above the Raiders in the standings. One game at a time but the Raiders playoff hopes get an inch bigger with a win over the Rams this week.