Super Bowl LIV, a game which I’m choosing to pretend didn’t happen, is over and we’re moving on to 2020. A lot of people are wasting their time on mock drafts that will be obsolete after free agency completely transforms the NFL’s landscape. So instead, we’re taking a closer look at some of the free agents the Las Vegas Raiders should target in March. Today, we look at the offense.
Raiders offense currently
The Raiders have a great foundation on offense. For the first time in a long time, their offensive line is completely set. Kolton Miller had a good sophomore season, Richie Incognito was a force last year, Rodney Hudson is still the league’s best center, and Trent Brown has proven to be a very good investment at right tackle. Las Vegas actually has a bit of competition at right guard, as Gabe Jackson‘s contract makes him a potential cap casualty, leaving the job to Denzelle Good, who played well in a pinch.
Darren Waller and Foster Moreau are among the league’s best young tight ends, and the duo of Josh Jacobs and Alec Ingold will be punishing defenders in between the tackles for a long, long time. The team recently re-signed Jalen Richard, so they even have a change-of-pace receiving back locked up.
Alas, the Raiders really only have question marks at two positions, and they’re arguably the most important positions on offense. The quarterback position has divided the fanbase, and the amount of money invested in receiver doesn’t match up with the amount of talent. Maybe those two go hand in hand, and making dramatic changes at either would fix the problem, but I’m just going to pretend it’s all broken and go from there.
Here are the “can’t miss” free agents that the Raiders should target on offense.
The skill players
Carlos Hyde, Running Back
This probably isn’t the name you wanted to hear when you opened the article, but I think Hyde would be a good fit for the Silver and Black. Make no mistake though, he isn’t a starting caliber back and he’ll turn 30 this year. Also, the Raiders would be his fifth team in four years. He’s not wildly dynamic like Jacobs, and he’s not a receiving threat out of the backfield like Richard. But in my opinion, that’s why he’s a great signing. He’s physical, but relatively inexpensive, and I don’t think there will be a ton of demand for his services.
He can come in to give Jacobs some rest on first or second down, while still tenderizing the front seven. I never want to see the Raiders come out on a short yardage down, only to run the draw with Richard out of the shotgun for no gain, ever again. They did it constantly last year, and the defense was never fooled. Jacobs is the workhorse of this offense, and I’m not trying to bring in someone to challenge his spot. Hyde is a low-risk, high-reward change of pace option in the Raider backfield.
Breshad Perriman, Wide Receiver
You guys remember Perriman, right? The Ravens spent a first round pick on the speedster hoping he’d finally give the team the elite pass-catcher they’ve lacked since the franchise’s inception, and it was a disaster. In 27 games with Baltimore, he only caught 43 passes for 576 yards and three touchdowns. For perspective, Hunter Renfrow had 49 grabs for 605 yards and four touchdowns in just 13 games this past season. Perriman didn’t do much better in his one-season stint with the Browns either. In fact, it wasn’t until he was the third option in the pass-happy Tampa Bay offense last year that he had anything vaguely resembling production.
So why do I think the Raiders should sign him? For many of the same reasons I think they should sign Hyde. I don’t think Perriman is necessarily a starter for Las Vegas, but he’s someone with elite speed (he ran multiple sub-4.3 40 yard dashes), and averages 16 yards per a catch as a pro. Everyone from Mike Mayock to Napolean Kaufman has said this offense needs more speed on the outside, and that’s exactly what Perriman can give this team as yet another low-risk, high-reward option.
Stefon Diggs, Wide Receiver
Now, Diggs isn’t technically a free agent, so I’m cheating a little here, but I know people were going to lose it if I kept making bargain bin suggestions. The Vikings receiver also makes the most sense for the Raiders, and it’s not even close. They need a dynamic, fast wide out and he is quickly becoming one of the NFL’s best deep threats. In a free agent class where Robby Anderson raises too many questions for me, and Amari Cooper probably isn’t stoked about coming back as long as Jon Gruden and/or Derek Carr are around, it’s not like there are a ton of high-profile names for the team to grab.
Why would Minnesota move on from such a talented receiver? First, based on his social media, he’s not happy there. Second, he’s about to be responsible for a huge salary cap hit on a team that doesn’t have a ton of money to throw around. And finally, with Gary Kubiak‘s promotion to offensive coordinator, the team is about to commit hard to Dalvin Cook and the run game, so it wouldn’t make sense to pay both Diggs and teammate Adam Thielen.
Personally, I’m still for drafting someone. I would like to see Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb in Silver and Black this year, but if Mike Mayock remains wary of drafting receivers in the first round, Diggs is the best option for the team in my eyes.
And the Quarterbacks?
I know everyone wants a spicy pick for quarterback. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to say the Raiders go after one. Regardless of whether the team does or doesn’t get Tom Brady, by even insinuating interest, they’ve tipped their hands. Now we know that all the talk of “evaluating every position” isn’t just talk, and Jon Gruden will upgrade the quarterback position if he believes he can. But if we’re being honest, this is a very flawed quarterback class. You’ve gotta ask yourself who is better than Carr.
This would be the ideal free agent in my eyes. Sure, he’s the Wizards Michael Jordan, not the Bulls Michael Jordan, but he’s still His Airness. If Carr’s time with the team is running out, it becomes a choice between a “has-been” or a “never-was”. For me, it’s a no-brainer, not to mention Brady in Las Vegas, where they don’t have income tax, is a very seductive sales pitch for free agents. But ultimately, I bet he ends up back in New England.
Fool’s gold incarnate, someone’s about to wildly overpay Tannehill. The Titans played well with him at the helm, and there’s no question that he took more risks, and probably made more big plays than Carr did this past year, but he’s not a big enough upgrade over number four to pay him the money he’s going to ask for. He just got Tennessee to the playoffs, and while you and I know that had more to do with Derrick Henry than him, it’s a solid tool come contract time.
Prescott and Carr are on very similar planes in my mind. Good enough to start, but not necessarily good enough to keep. The biggest difference here, like with Tannehill, is that the Raiders signal-caller is already under contract. If they were both free agents, both asking for the same money, it would be different. But I don’t think that Prescott is a big enough upgrade over Carr to warrant the price increase.
There’s a surprisingly vocal minority in Raider Nation that really, really wants Winston under center. They’re wrong, and that’s fine. But if you want to read more about that, you’ll have to read the article I wrote about it.
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