Raiders

AFC West: Did Raiders in Free Agency Create Some Separation?

With NFL free agency’s big names off the board, did the Las Vegas Raiders do enough to separate themselves from the rest of the AFC West?

General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden navigated free agency quite impressively. The defense was finally addressed with some big names being brought in and they even got themselves a quarterback. In spite of the success, it’ll be interesting to see if the Raiders created some separation for themselves in the division.

Related: Marcus Mariota Stepping Up Amid Crisis

Josh Schrock of NBC Sports recently gave the Raiders an A-minus grade for their offseason work:

“The Raiders got loads better on defense. While they whiffed on Byron Jones and Chris Harris, they still made wholesale improvements and the additions at linebacker should allow them to better defend the Chiefs — in theory.”

When Schrock says the improvements should “theoretically” help the Raiders, it’s important to remember no one wins championships in the offseason. Yet, the upgrades at linebacker should translate into wins given how good, as a whole, the Raiders pass rush could be next year.

Rest of the West

But how did the Raiders do when compared to their rivals? Schrock gave each team a different grade in the West. Let’s take a look.

For the Broncos, “B. I love the defensive additions and if Bradley Chubb returns healthy this will be one of the better defenses in the NFL. They didn’t get another receiver opposite Courtland Sutton and appear to be convinced Drew Lock is the guy. Best of luck.”

What about the Chargers? “B-plus. This has room to go up if they sign Newton or give the keys to Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa in the draft. Taylor is a solid NFL backup quarterback. But this roster is loaded and that defense has the parts to at least combat the best weapons the Chiefs have. Just have to find a quarterback.”

And finally, for the Super Bowl champs, “B-minus. Losing both starting cornerbacks hurts. But they still have Mahomes and the most dynamic offense in the league.”

Not Quite There Yet…

The Chiefs did lose their starting cornerbacks which is big for their defense. Even so, as long as Mahomes is running that offense the Raiders’ work is far from finished. The team still lacks cornerbacks of their own; something Mayock will surely address at the draft.

Hypothetically speaking, if the Chargers do pick up Cam Newton and the Broncos’ Lock improves in Year 2, this defense will have to improve rather quickly or else the team could be looking at a third or fourth place finish.

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