It’s Tampering Time: Raiders Edition

The COVID-19 virus has brought much of the USA to a standstill. What it hasn’t done is stopping the Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the NFL from conducting business as scheduled.

The NFL 2020 league year will begin March 18, 2020 at 4pm ET, as programmed. The league and the NFLPA mutually agreed to extend the deadline to tag players to March 16, 2020 11:59:59 am. At high-noon, teams will be free to begin to contact free agents in the “legal tampering window.”

The QB Elephant in the Room

We will finally find out how committed the front office is to quarterback Derek Carr. Throughout the offseason, all of the right things have been said; head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock both have cited the highlights while making minimal mentions of the lowlights. However, neither have committed to Carr as the starter going into 2020.

Instead they said “we are going to evaluate every position to see if we can get better.” Raiders have been linked to quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Marcus Mariota, and Teddy Bridgewater, among others. Gruden and Mayock are going to begin actively pursuing once tampering begins, ending all speculation.

Related: We’ll soon learn if the Raiders land QB Tom Brady

Defense, Defense, Defense

Hello darkness, my old friend. The defense is fallen into a deep dark pit yet again. The Raiders 2019 pass defense ranked 25th in passing yards allowed, 27th in passing touchdowns allowed, 29th in interceptions, and 30th in net yards gained per pass attempt. As a unit they accounted for 32 sacks, nine forced fumbles, nine interceptions

Trading former first-round pick Gareon Conley to the Texans midseason left Las Vegas searching for a number one cornerback again. Trayvon Mullen did not disappoint us, putting together a solid rookie campaign. Displaying flashes of ball hawking potential, along with coverage skills snugger than a glove, He only allowed 6.6 yards per target and led the team with 10 passes defensed.

While Mullen shined, the Raiders are still in desperate need for secondary help. The defending Super Bowl champs are in the division, and Patrick Mahomes makes career days out of the Raiders pass defense.

Finally, the Raiders ship appears to have come in. Armed with $50.4M in cap space in fabulous tax-free Nevada, Las Vegas is going to more than likely reset the corner market again when they pursue targets such as Byron Jones, James Bradberry, potentially Kendall Fuller and Chris Harris Jr. as well.

Getting strength in the LB corps

The Silver and Black hasn’t prioritized the linebacker position for decades, which has been a rather head-scratching oddity to me. The last Raiders team to win a Super Bowl in 1983 featured Ted Hendricks, Matt Millen, Bob Nelson, and Rod Martin playing a 3-4 scheme oddly enough.

Every defense that has a name includes fearsome linebackers. The 2000 Ravens bring Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, and Jamie Sharper to mind. The “Legion of Boom” had Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright. The 85′ Bears had Otis Wilson, Mike Singletary, and Wilbur Marshall. The 2002 “Tampa 2” defense featured Shelton Quarles, Derrick Brooks, and Alshermond Singleton.

Raiders have this weird draft strategy where they don’t consider linebackers in the early rounds to be worthwhile selections. This bold strategy has yet to have a positive outcome, so perhaps addressing it in free agency is the plan. Joe Schobert, has left Cleveland and is looking to be paid in excess of $10 million a year as any 26-year old Pro Bowler should be. On the other hand, Cory Littleton is a Raider Nation. And last but not least, Nick Vigil is a Paul Guenther protege from Cincinnati who knows his system and can execute in it.

In Reality…

What can we really expect through this tampering period? More likely than not, the Raiders are going to make two or three splashes on day one in free agency in their way to relevance. They need star power and have everything in line to go out and secure it. Who will it be? Three more days before we find out.

You may also like: Will 2020 Legal Tampering Period Be Repeat of Last Year for Raiders?

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