news 1 week ago

Raiders offseason guide 2020: Key free agents, team needs, targets, salary cap & draft picks

Sporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)

The Raiders are making one big organizational move to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season. That puts a bigger spotlight on the personnel moves they will make during the transition.

With three first-round draft picks in 2019 and a few smart free-agent additions — even with the Antonio Brown disaster — the Raiders improved from 4-12 to 7-9, staying in AFC playoff contention through Week 17. This year, coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are once again armed with the available resources for the team to take the next big step in its offseason improvement plan.

Sporting News takes a deep dive into the Raiders' to-do list from before NFL free agency through the 2020 NFL Draft.

NFL FREE AGENCY 2020: Ranking top 50 players

Raiders' top priority: Figure out quarterback

The Raiders got a slightly better season from Derek Carr in his second year with Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson. While he was more efficient by both protecting the ball and getting the ball downfield more accurately, his career ceiling didn't have a great feeling to it.

The free-agent rumors have run wild that they are looking for a veteran replacement, namely bringing Tom Brady to Las Vegas. Brady is coming off a tough season with the Patriots, but his intense competitiveness should mesh well with Gruden. He has the ability to lift a good complementary supporting cast.

IYER: 3 reasons why Brady and Raiders would work well

Carr carries a $21.5 million cap number with his inflated deal that has him under contract through 2022. But should the Raiders cut him, they would only be out $7.9 million in dead money while saving $13.6 million in cap space.

If it's not replacing Carr with Brady or another younger free agent such as Jameis Winston, then they could consider drafting their next franchise guy. The Raiders are sitting on the Nos. 12 and 19 overall picks. They could be in the mix for either Justin Herbert or even Tua Tagovailoa, and there's also the potential of Gruden considering a later-rounder such as Jalen Hurts.

With many options at the game's most important position, choosing a quarterback is the most important decision ahead of the Raiders' first season in Vegas.

Raiders free agents 2020

Here's a look at the Oakland Raiders' key unrestricted, unsigned players for next season:

  • QB Mike Glennon
  • RB DeAndre Washington
  • RB Isaiah Crowell
  • DE Benson Mayowa
  • DT Olson Pierre
  • DT Josh Mauro
  • OLB Vontaze Burfict
  • ILB Will Compton
  • OLB Kyle Wilber
  • CB Daryl Worley
  • S Karl Joseph

There's not much to worry about offensively here beyond Carr after the team decided to bring back both change-of-pace back Jalen Richard and guard Richie Incognito. Defensive line depth will need to be rebuilt, and linebacker will see a simliar reshuffle.

The biggest changes, however, may come in the secondary, where Oakland may look to complement promising second-year players Trayvon Mullen and Jonathan Abram with upgrades over Worley and Joseph.

Oakland Raiders salary cap

The Raiders are operating with a little more than $50 million under the cap, which puts them just outside the top 10. The other cut candidates aside from Carr include wide receiver Tyrell Williams and guard Gabe Jackson, more because of disapponting performances than out of monetary neccessity.

Biggest team needs

  • Linebacker: The Raiders got some good play from third-year undrafted player Nicholas Morrow, and they should retain Tahir Whitehead as a venerable tackling presence going into his age 30 season. But they really need a rangy player who can do everything, especially shining in coverage and offering more as a blitzer.
  • Defensive line: Second-year ends Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby are a good starting combination, but the Raiders could use some versaility in their rotation with more interior and situational pass-rush help. 
  • Wide receiver: Brown left a big void outside, and the often banged-up Williams did little after a fast start. Former Bill Zay Jones is not an answer. They could upgrade both their big-play and possession potential outside with slot receiver Hunter Renfrow being the only definitive solution for a specific role.
  • Cornerback: The Raiders already moved on from Gareon Conley, and Worley should be next. This should be a high free-agent and draft priority.
  • Safety: Joseph provided limited impact after the team got only one healthy game from Abram, who had the potential for a monster rookie season. There's a chance, however, Joseph can be re-signed as a good-value complementary player.

Top free agent targets

Going by need, Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy could help them in various capacities in the front seven. The Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a very active playmaker Las Vegas could use, too.

At wide receiver, almost everyone is in play, but on top of going for a Gruden favorite such as the Bengals' A.J. Green, the Buccaneers' Breshad Perriman and the Jets' Robby Anderson fit the profile of needed field-stretchers.

The Raiders also have been attached to two cornerbacks, the Cowboys' Byron Jones on the more expensive side and the Broncos' Chris Harris Jr. on the shorter-term side.

Raiders draft picks 2020

  • Round 1, Pick No. 12
  • Round 1, Pick No. 19 (From Chicago Bears)
  • Round 3, Pick No. 80
  • Round 3, Pick No. 81 (From Chicago Bears)
  • Round 3, Pick No. 91 (From Seattle Seahawks through Houston Texans)
  • Round 4, Pick No. 121
  • Round 5, Pick No. 159

NFL MOCK DRAFT 2020: Raiders double up on defense

The Raiders, on top of their two top-20 picks, have three third-round picks, thanks to more trickle down from the Khaili Mack deal with the Bears and the trade of Conley to the Texans. That gives them seven total, minus picks in both the second and sixth rounds. So the emphasis will be quality on the first two days with the same basic quantity as most teams.

In Sporting News' latest mock draft, the Raiders are tied to the best cornerback and defensive tackle available, depending on who's available at Nos. 12 and No. 19, but quarterback is a strong early possibility, and linebacker also will be in play should Clemson's Isaiah Simmons fall out of the top 10.

Look for the team to sign at least two splashy free agents, perhaps with some money freed up from moving Carr and otherwise stockpiling in the draft after a strong initial class with Mayock in 2019.