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.
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.
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.
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.
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.