The Las Vegas Raiders start their 2022 offseason campaign with the tough job of self-scouting. Which defensive players deserve to be retained and rewarded for a job well done? Who should be in the plans moving forward? Let’s take a look.
After the last echo of the whistle…
Making the playoffs at the end of the 2021 season was a wonderful treat. When the Raiders made their push at the end of the season, it was because of their defense. Heading into the 2022 season, the Raiders currently have 15 defensive free agents which accounted for $25.365M against the cap.
Figuring into the cap situation will be the three colossal contractual albatrosses of Cory Littleton, Clelin Ferrell, and Carl Nassib. Owed $15.76M, $9.97M, and $9.65M respectively, the Raiders are in a pickle with how much of their $39.72M of cap space on defense.
Littleton and Nassib will most likely be designated as post-June 1 cuts. Littleton can be cut to save $11.75M and carry a dead cap hit of $4.01M, while Nassib can save $8M and his dead cap hit would be $1.65M. The problem would be that the money stays in the cap until June 1.
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When looking at the player grades, it’s important to take into consideration that they’re based on the entirety of the season. Early in the season, this Raiders’ defense had some holes in its game. The rushing defense, in particular, was near the bottom in every category. During the last month of the season, it was one of the best.
Equally important to keep an eye on is age versus cap hit. Remember, the Raiders only have $39M+ to play with and still have a legitimate need for a veteran right tackle and a number one wide receiver. So, with that in mind, let us take a look at the players who most need to come back.
Free Agent Designation
There are three designations for the need for the services of specific players. Pay them: These are the players who worked hard all year and deserve a contract extension and a raise. Re-sign them: these players were solid, and if you need some discount dirty work, they’re your guys. Wish them luck: these are the guys who just didn’t work or aren’t worth the money.
PT: Keisean Nixon, Darius Philon, Quinton Jefferson
The monsters in the middle were Philon and Jefferson. They were the ones in the middle who made the Raiders’ defense happen. Philon’s penetration and Jefferson’s toughness are a couple of characteristics that need to remain. In a better scheme, Nixon has proven to be a more than capable player. His problem is that he sits behind Nate Hobbs.
RS: Solomon Thomas, Casey Hayward, Dallin Leavitt, Brandon Facyson, Roderic Teamer, Marquel Lee, KJ Wright
Hayward and Wright would be in the first tier if they weren’t old. In all seriousness, both were phenomenal in Bradley’s Cover 3. What would it take to re-sign? Probably Bradley. Thomas and Leavitt were intricate rotational players that filled roles but were replaceable. Facyson is underrated by PFF as a depth piece who ended the season by starting to perform effectively. Facyson, Teamer, and Lee represent solid, cheap labor.
WTL: Johnathan Hankins, Desmond Trufant, Gerald McCoy, Nicholas Morrow
The entire defensive tackle depth chart is made up of free agents. They can’t pay them all and they can’t keep them all either. Hankins is the odd man out, as they performed better without him. Trufant was a late season addition, but as an older player, he should be replaced. McCoy and Morrow combined for one game in 2021 between the two of them.
*Top Photo: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun