As the Las Vegas Raiders try to establish continuity with their top-10 scoring offense in 2020, most of the roster is returning for 2021.
There are some players, however, that will not be a part of the Raiders’ upcoming season. For better or worse, general manager Mike Mayock made some decisions to try and improve the roster. Some players are addition by subtraction (Trent Brown for example).
Others are just losses. Sometimes you lose a guy to a better deal or a better situation. You hope to bring back every good player, but it doesn’t work that way all the time. Here are three players that the Raiders will sorely miss in 2021.
Nelson Agholor was a pleasant surprise for Jon Gruden and co. in 2020. Coming over from Philadelphia, ‘Nelly’ needed a resurgence to rebuild his reputation. Both Agholor and the Raiders got what they needed.
The speedy receiver posted 48 receptions, 896 yards, and 8 touchdowns. His yardage total was the highest of his entire career, and the eight touchdowns matched his Eagles best. ’15’ was an enormous presence in the middle of the field, taking the top off the defense even when he was not the target.
This production came on an absolute steal of a contract: one year, $1.074 million. The Raiders should thank their lucky stars they were able to find a player like this on a veteran minimum.
Agholor parlayed 2020 into a healthy free agent contract playing for the New England Patriots. The Raiders, in turn, essentially replaced him with John Brown.
Make no mistake, Derek Carr is going to miss having Agholor wide open down the field more than once this season. Brown has the potential to fill his shoes but free agents are always a gamble. He was a great mentor to the young receiver corps, and the Raiders will have to lean on Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards to fill the void in 2021.
PFF’s highest-graded center since 2015 will be playing for a new team in 2021. Rodney Hudson was a gem for the Raiders, coming over in 2015 as a free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hudson did nothing but dominate his entire Raider career. He handled every assignment at the line, gave up very few sacks, and only amassed a total of 19 penalties in his entire stint.
His job was to bring along a young Carr with stability on the offensive line. Through the 2020 season, he was still dominating on a line that had suffered some turnover due to Trent Brown and Richie Incognito missing time.
He is now an Arizona Cardinal. The Raiders opted to get younger across the entire offensive line and traded him to Kliff Kingsbury’s squad. His replacement, Andre James, has very little playing experience as a starter. After letting Brown and one other key lineman walk, there are more questions than answers.
Even if James plays at an average level, there will be a significant drop-off. There is almost no chance that he can match Hudson’s production in Year 1, so this will be a significant loss.
Speaking of strong veterans on the offensive line, the Raiders lost more than one this offseason. Gabe Jackson was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason, continuing the overhaul of the road-grading unit.
‘Big Gabe’ was inconsistent in his final year with the Raiders. He was previously an impressive mainstay on the line after being selected in the Raiders’ dominant 2014 draft. He was the third-round pick who followed the selections of Carr and Khalil Mack. Following the signing of Richie Incognito, he switched to right guard.
His replacement is already waiting in the wings. Denzelle Good who filled in at left guard following Incognito’s injury seems poised to take over the right slot now that Richie’s back with the Raiders. Losing a mauler like Jackson is going to thin out the line in the event of additional injury to an already young group. Kolton Miller and Incognito will need to become leaders for the Raiders to thrive without him.
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