The Las Vegas Raiders head into the offseason with wide receiver as one of their biggest needs. The question is how they go about rebuilding the depleted unit?
Quarterback Derek Carr had his hands full trying to compete with bare bones at wide out. This of course, after the Antonio Brown fiasco derailed the 2019 Raiders, which showed the inherent peril of building an offense around one player. Needless to say, the receivers room resembled musical chairs the rest of the way.
It will be interesting to see which route general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden decide to take. Other than Hunter Renfrow, and maybe Tyrell Williams, this group will undergo a major face lift if winning right now is a priority.
Veterans and Proven Talent?
Free agency will provide some interesting possibilities barring a major trade, such as a deal for Odell Beckham Jr. as an example. You would think the Brown debacle would discourage Las Vegas from even contemplating such a move. However, as we’ve all learned, we must never put anything past the head coach. If he wants someone like Beckham, he’ll pull the trigger. The smarter route would be to add at least a couple of wide receivers who could come in to help Carr regain his 2016 form.
For instance, picking up A.J. Green and Randall Cobb would get this done, and more importantly, this transaction wouldn’t break the bank either. Cobb was on a one-year deal worth $5 million with the Cowboys last season. Per Spotrac, he’ll have a projected market value of $7.1 million per season in free agency. Green’s last contract was for four years worth $60 million. Last season alone, his cap hit was $15.1 million, but to say he’ll command the same type of money is ridiculous. He’s been battling injuries for the last few years and did not play at all in 2019. A dream scenario would be to land him on a one-year “prove-it” deal though that’s unlikely. Per Spotrac, Green currently has a market value of $9.1 million per season. The Raiders could offer a two-year deal and see if he can regain his Pro Bowl form.
Another approach would be to stay away from expensive free agents altogether, which would mean a reliance on inexperienced youth. It could work, as the Raiders will potentially have Renfrow, Zay Jones, and Tyrell Williams back. If so, Mayock and Gruden could go all in on the offense and draft one or two wide receivers in the first round. In a recent mock, the Raiders take both Henry Ruggs III and Laviska Shenault Jr. in the first. Such scenario would help Las Vegas in more than one front. First, the wide receiver corps would have a hefty infusion of talent, which would benefit the team from a long-term point of view. Williams played excellent before plantar fasciitis hobbled him last year, a “true number two wide receiver” already in house mitigates depth concerns.
A second important facet of going this route would be the monetary comfort. None of the players previously mentioned would be breaking the bank in 2020, which would give the Raiders flexibility to invest in the defense. The enigma here though is who will be the starting at quarterback in 2020. Let’s say Gruden rolls with incumbent Carr, would such a young core be a good idea? In other words, lets look at this way: If the Raiders successfully pursue Tom Brady, would the organization trusting him more to elevate the aforementioned wide receiver group than Carr? After all, Brady won’t come cheap even with the tax benefits of playing in Nevada. Could Carr do the same? Will have to wait and see how this unit looks after April.
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