It is no secret that the Las Vegas Raiders have struggled to nail their first-round picks in recent years, so maybe they should trade their 2021 selection for an established player, maybe a defensive lineman.
Names like Rolando McClain and JaMarcus Russell will live in infamy. But even in the Mike Mayock era, the results have been less than appealing. The jury is still out on Clelin Ferrell and Jonathan Abram, but so far they’ve underperformed.
Cornerback Damon Arnette had a rough first year with the team, and the Henry Ruggs III pick is still head-scratching. Josh Jacobs has been the most consistent, but his long-term role with the team is still to be determined. Thus, here are three players the Raiders should target trade for in 2021.
These three could bolster the Raiders defensive line
J.J. Watt has been the face of the Houston Texans for years. He is beloved for his work both on and off the field. Also, his 101 sacks are a franchise record. Not long ago, he led a fundraiser after Hurricane Harvey hit the city that raised almost $50 million dollars. Nevertheless, his time might be coming to a close in a Texans uniform.
Watt had four straight years with at least ten sacks, including two years with 20.5. From there he dealt with injuries for two straight years that limited him to just three games. He then picked up right where he left off in 2018, racking up 16 sacks and a career high-high seven forced fumbles en route to Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods.
However, Watt again dealt with injuries in 2019 and played in just eight games and even though he was healthy in 2020, he only managed five sacks. Then again, he played on a mostly dead-on-arrival Texans team that fired Bill O’Brien early in the year. Now, in what could turn into a full-on rebuild, Houston and Watt might be ready to part ways.
Watt may not be worth a first-round pick straight up at this point in his career, but Houston doesn’t have a first this year, so they may be willing to throw in Watt and another piece for Las Vegas if they interested in the future Hall of Famer. He would provide a vocal veteran presence the team severely lacked in 2020.
There were rumors that the New York Jets were looking to move on from Quinnen Williams close to the trade deadline. It was definitely surprising, considering it was only Williams’ second season, and he was playing pretty well for the most part. In the end, it never came to fruition. Regardless, the Raiders would be smart to inquire about the former top-three NFL pick.
Williams is a massive defensive tackle, standing six-foot-three and weighing over 300 pounds. Though his strength is clogging up holes in the middle of the field, he can also get to the quarterback, evidenced by his seven sacks this past season. He would also be an excellent complement to Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby on the outside.
Like the Texans, the Jets are also going through a regime change. The rumors of Williams being on the trade block could have been tied to personnel no longer with the team, so he could be completely off the market. At the same time, the new coach might decide he is a valuable young building block. Whatever the case, Mike Mayock should be on the phone early and often inquiring.
The Raiders could instantly improve their linebacker corps…
It’s almost comical just how bad the Raiders linebacking corps has been in recent memory. This past offseason, Las Vegas acquired what they thought was going to be the prize of the 2020 free-agent class – Cory Littleton. That didn’t quite happen though. In Littleton’s words himself, his season “went miserably.”
Although there is still hope that a better defensive coordinator could help him, pursuing another linebacker could pay dividends for the team. Roquan Smith has over 100 tackles in each of his last three years in the league, with a career-high 139 last season.
The Chicago Bears have not put any indication out that Smith could be on the market, but cap space could prove to be an issue for the team really soon. As of now, the Bears are over the limit on their salary cap and there are a few players on the team that is looking for contracts soon.
One of those players is wide receiver Allen Robinson, who is due for a big payday this year. In addition, quarterback Mitch Trubisky is also up for a new contract after the team declined his fifth-year option. The quarterback’s name has come on strong at the end of this season, and the Bears might try to stick with the quarterback and wide receiver duo. Their defense has a lot more pieces, which means Smith could become an expendable piece. The Raiders might as well pick up the phone and see if they can get some type of package together involving their first and the Bears’ Smith.
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