The Raiders need to be big spenders to start their Vegas era off right

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders are nearing the end of a roster rebuild, but there are still some key components they need to bring in.

The Raiders briefly flirted with the idea of contention last season, before losing all but one of their remaining six games. But even a 7-9 record is a definite improvement over the 4-12 mark they finished with in 2018.

While many will be focused on the franchise’s move from Oakland to Las Vegas, there is potential for a ton of new faces on the roster. Jon Gruden’s team enters the offseason with two first-round draft picks and around $60 million in salary cap space.

The Raiders should be nearing the end of a multi-year roster rebuild, though there are still questions about what to do at quarterback. Derek Carr has been good enough to put up decent numbers, but hasn’t been the catalyst for many wins for the silver and black. For now, he’s the man under center and the name of the game for Las Vegas is simple: get him as much help as possible.

Which leads us to their biggest needs this offseason.

Las Vegas Raiders (7-9), missed playoffs

The Raiders are closer than you might think, provided you think they can win with Carr. Defensively, there are a couple notable holes that need to be addressed this offseason.

Before free agency:

  1. Wide receiver: Trading Amari Cooper left the Raiders without a clear top receiver and that was extremely evident last season. They have a home-run hitter at tight end with Darren Waller, but Carr needs a reliable weapon at receiver, and ideally, two or three new ones. Luckily, the draft is loaded at the position.
  2. Linebacker: The Raiders have been looking for help at linebacker for years now. They hoped that Vontaze Burfict would bring some stability to the position last season, but he missed the bulk of it due to a suspension that the Raiders probably should have seen coming. They also released Tahir Whitehead before the new league year. Las Vegas could bolster the linebacking corps in both free agency and the draft.
  3. Defensive end: The Raiders weren’t last in the league in sacks again, but they did finish in the bottom third and could still use some pass-rushing juice. The best place to get that is a reliable veteran, like Robert Quinn, to assist with the progress of Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby.

What Silver and Black Pride wants most this offseason: The Raiders were big spenders last year, highlighted by making Trent Brown the highest-paid tackle in NFL history, and I expect them to big spend as they move to Las Vegas. The Raiders’ two biggest needs are at linebacker and wide receiver. They may have to wait until the draft for a top receiver. But if they can get Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton and a few more starting defensive players (all layers of the unit need to be upgraded), it would be a great start to the offseason. — Bill Williamson

After free agency:

Despite the strange addition of Jason Witten for $5 million to a crowded tight end depth chart, the Raiders have added some huge pieces in linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, and quarterback Marcus Mariota. The linebackers should make the unit a strength for the first time in many years. Here’s what they should be looking for going into the draft.

  1. Wide receiver: The Raiders signed Nelson Agholor to a one-year deal. It’s an interesting signing because Agholor was a first-round pick who still has a ton of upside, but he’s not the reliable target that Carr (or Mariota) need. They need a No. 1 guy, preferably with their top draft pick.
  2. Safety: Karl Joseph wasn’t a fit in the Raiders’ defense despite his high level of play. That means the Raiders needed someone to start opposite Johnathan Abram and Jeff Heath certainly isn’t the answer. He’s valuable on special teams, but he shouldn’t be starting.
  3. Cornerback: While Trayvon Mullen is a promising young corner, he’s not proven to be a No. 1 guy yet. The addition of Eli Apple in free agency is an intriguing one, but the Raiders would do well to seek out more cornerback help in the draft.

We’ll check back on the Raiders once we get to the 2020 NFL Draft.

Read more at SB Nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *