Moving up or moving on? Vol. 3: Wide Receivers

The Raiders receiving room needs an overhaul. It has been a revolving door with practice squad members becoming starters in a matter of a couple months. Injuries came around, talent was dropped, and other than a few bright spots, the majority seemed like they couldn’t catch a ball even if stick’em was still allowed.

Luckily, even the worst ones on the roster have favorable contracts to drop if necessary, so we could see four or five new receivers next season. Let’s take a look:

Tyrell Williams

Moving up, Williams started out strong with a touchdown in each of his first four games. Then, he got plantar fasciitis and his production dropped off. He caught 42 of his 64 targets for 652 yards, five touchdowns and no fumbles when all was said and done. He had some bad drops, and could be let go with no cap penalty but given his injury, I expect him back. I don’t believe he is worth the $11 million he is due next year and if he doesn’t restructure his contract or take a pay cut, I hope he moves on.

Related: Moving up ir moving on? Vol. 2: Running Backs

Hunter Renfrow

Moving up, Renfrow has been a bright spot in Raider Nation, earning the nickname “Third and Renfrow” for being the go to guy on third downs. He played in 13 games, caught 49 passes for 609 yards and four touchdowns, with one fumble. An injury sidelined him but he showed heart, toughness, and came back with a vengeance after his injury, posting his first 100-yard receiving game, then followed it with another one. He just got better by the week as he became more comfortable in the system. I expect him to stay as a slot type “go-to guy” but depending on what kind of depth comes in, he could move to a second or even a main role if necessary.

Zay Jones

Split decision, Jones wasn’t used a whole lot considering he was thought to be a “number two” coming in, and in 10 games, he was only targeted 27 times, hauling 20 for 147 yards with zero touchdowns. There were quite a few plays where he was open, he just wasn’t looked at. Keep in mind he is owed $1.4 million, and can be dropped for zero. I think it comes to how he gets along with the quarterback and coaching staff. I would expect him back unless there really is an issue with him in the locker room.

Dwayne Harris

Moving up, Raiders lacked a solid return man with Harris’ injury this year. I would expect him back to fill that role and add some receiver depth. He is a free agent but it wouldn’t be expensive to re-sign him and I believe he liked his role there.

Marcell Ateman

Split decision, Ateman will count for 700k next season but can be dropped without any dead money. He started on the practice squad and was brought in when injuries started piling up. He caught 5 out of 10 targets for 116 yards and one fumble. Personally, I believe he should be cut for wearing Broncos colors on the way to the final game in Mile High, and on top of that, the final hail-mary against Jaguars, which he could have caught to win the game. They may keep him since he is cheap, adds depth and knows the system but he is not guaranteed a spot.

Rico Gafford

Moving up, Gafford has shown he is a speedy receiver, only playing in four games, he caught his 2 targets for 66 yards and one touchdown. He is under contract, expected to return and fight for more playing time.

Keelan Doss

Split decision, Doss was a preseason hero but unfortunately, people will mostly remember him as being the guy trying to catch that Jaguars hail-mary with his hands too low and the ball hitting his helmet. In his time, he caught 11 passes for 133 yards, no touchdowns, and no fumbles. Like Ateman, they could bring him back cheap since he knows the system and adds depth, but I think they will let him walk as his return (he had already been cut once) wasn’t anywhere near as productive as his preseason tenure.

Whoever else?

I expect Raiders to make a move for a receiver like Robby Anderson in free agency, and probably spend a first and later draft pick on the position. There will be new faces in that locker room and on that field next season.

Final words

That room needs a lot of help and more reliable depth, they have draft capital and cap space to do both. They need to lock up a true number one, or at least add another one or two good, but not great contributors to fill voids. Training camp battles should be fun to watch and hopefully we see a true #1 emerge out of it all.

You may also like: Why Tua Tagovailoa will play for Las Vegas Raiders

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