The Las Vegas Raiders were quite active during the offseason, and ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, let’s recap all the free agent transactions they partook in.
Here’s the first part of the list we covered at this Raiders blog, the Raiders Reserve/Future contracts and the players they re-signed.
Raiders Blog: Free Agent Signings
LB Cory Littleton: 3 year, $32,2500,000, opt-out in 2022
Career Stat Line: 64 games (37 started), six interceptions, one touchdown, 26 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recovered, 8.5 sacks, 315 total tackles, 20 tackles for a loss.
The Raiders headline signing was easily Littleton, who is regarded as one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, posting a Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade of 82.3 in 2019, when he started all 16 games, allowed 61 completions on 85 targets for 535 yards, four touchdowns and a 94 quarterback rating. He’s also great at stopping the run and rush the passer. Last year, he blitzed 64 times, recorded two hurries, one quarterback knockdown, 3.5 sacks, seven pressures and five quarterback hits. He only missed five tackles and had a 77.3 PFF pass rush grade and 64.7 against the run.
QB Marcus Mariota: 2 year, $17,600,000, opt-out in 2021
Career Stats: 63 games (61 started), completed 1,110 of 1,765 passes for 13,207 yards, 76 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, 242 carries, 1,299 yards, 11 touchdowns
The Raiders added Mariota for more than one role, he will not be the Day 1 starter at quarterback as that will be Derek Carr. However, Las Vegas lacked a strong backup and Mariota provides an excellent option in case Carr goes down or underperforms. In addition, the Raiders can use Mariota to push Carr to be his best self and get the most out of him. Mariota was replaced in Tennessee by Ryan Tannehill but isn’t a bad player. In a system where he can use his skills to his advantage, he can be a serviceable contributor and learn from Derek Carr. The big question is if he would take over if Carr underachieves in 2020.
Career Stats: 255 games (245 started), 1,215 receptions for 12,977 yards, 72 touchdowns, and a 71.3% catch percentage.
TE Jason Witten: 1 year, $4,000,000
Witten was definitely the Raiders most interesting signing of the 2020 offseason. He is an aging veteran and was brought in to a young tight end room that already featured Darren Waller and Foster Moreau. He isn’t going to be the starter or the guy that goes sideline to sideline and make the big shifty plays, but he will be a strong blocker and a veteran leader. He has for sure regressed, seeing his receptions drop from 77 in 2015 to 63 in 2019. Witten has always been a strong blocking tight end and will be an upgrade over Derek Carrier.
WR Nelson Agholor: 1 year, $1,047,500
Career Stats: 71 games (62 GS), 224 receptions, 2,515 yards, 18 touchdowns, 59.9% catch rate, 5 kick returns for 24 yards.
Agholor definitely has had his share of problems, mainly dropped passes (three in 2019). While he does have trouble coming with the ball, he is a strong wide receiver and can make plays. He had a down year in 2019 and recorded 39 receptions for 363 yards, and three touchdowns. His best year was in 2017, when he had 62 catches for 768 yards, eight touchdowns and a catch percentage of 65.3%. He will come in and compete for the fourth or fifth wide receiver role with Zay Jones, who was acquired from Buffalo. Moreover, he has the ability to return kicks and punts. At USC, he returned 37 punts for 540 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 24 kicks for 443 yards. If Agholor can get his drops under control, he can be a good depth signing and rotational player.
Raiders Blog: What about the linebackers?
LB Nick Kwiatkoski: 3 year, $21,000,000, opt-out in 2022
Career Stats: 57 G (22 GS), one interception, eight passes defensed, four forced fumbles, six sacks, 184 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, eight quarterback hits, one safety
Kwiatkowski was the Raiders second addition to overhaul their linebacker corps. He is a strong run-stopper and pass-rusher but can sometimes struggle in coverage. In 2019, he allowed 22 receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown, along with a 68.7 PFF coverage grade. While rushing the passer, hd had 3 hurries, six pressures, 3 quarterback hits, and three sacks on 22 blitzes and had a 81.8 pass rush grade. Overall, Kwiatkowski is young and coming off a breakout season in Chicago, he will be a leader of the defense that will call plays.
S Jeff Heath: 2 year, $6,000,000, opt-out in 2021
Career Stats: 106 games (54 started), eight interceptions, 24 passes defensed, 5 forced fumble, one fumble recovered, one defensive touchdown, 346 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits.
Heath is a very versatile defensive back who is able to play in the box and strong safety while also taking a fair amount of snaps on special teams. He will allow the Raiders to use Jonathan Abram at linebacker and safety while using free agent signing Damarious Randall and Erik Harris at safety. He will likely be the leader of a young defensive back core that can teach. In coverage, he allowed 33 receptions for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns in 13 games last year.
EDGE Carl Nassib: 3 year, $25,250,000 opt-out in 2022
Career Stats: 59 games (32 started), 11 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 18 sacks, 115 tackles, 31 tackles for a loss, 40 quarterback hits.
Nassib, who is 6-7, 275 lb, will join Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell. It is going to be interesting to see where the Raiders line Nassib up as he could play outside linebacker, defensive end or stand up EDGE rusher on passing downs. Nassib will be an asset against the run. Last year, he had a 74.3 PFF run grade against the run and a 63.0 pass rush grade.
DT Maliek Collins, 25: 1 year, 5,750,00 (6 M Cap Hit)
Career Stats: 61 games (55 start), one forced fumble, five fumbles recovered , 14.5 sacks, 84 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 40 quarterback hits.
Collins joins his former position coach, Rod Marinelli. He isn’t a player who is going to jump off the statsheet but, he commands double teams on a constant basis. He draws the attention off of other players and will let them succeed. In addition, he excels at run stopping, grading at 77.6 per PFF. Collins provides the Raiders versatility at defensive tackle with Hurst, Hankins, and Hall while also drawing the attention away from defensive ends and EDGE rushers.
Career Stats: 65 games (56 started), 14 interceptions, two touchdowns, 47 passes defensed, 2 fumbles recovered, 2.5 sacks, 290 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 3 quarterback hits.
S Damarious Randall: 1 year, $1.5 million
Randall is a very versatile safety that can play any position in the secondary. After losing Karl Joesph to the Browns, the Raiders needed to add someone to pair with Jonathan Abram and they got their man in Randall, who is an excellent run stopper. In addition, Randall can play well in the box blitzing, recording 3 pressures, two hurries, and 2.5 sacks on outside man blitzes last year. The addition of Randall brings a vet to the young secondary and allows the Raider to maximize the most out of Abram, moving him back to his natural position. Overall, Randall will allow the Raiders secondary to be versatile and be able to compete with top-notch receivers in the AFC West.
OL Eric Kush: 1 year, $1,047,500
DT Daniel Ross: 1 year, $750,000
TE Nick O’Leary: 1 year, $1,047,500
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