With the opening of free agency just weeks away, the Las Vegas Raiders will have plenty of work to do. As always, the spotlight will be on the big names. However, as 2021 showed, this does not always work out.
Which free agent signings from 2021 didn’t work out for the Raiders?
John Brown, WR
After the departure of wideout Nelson Agholor, the Raiders appeared to be in need of another speed threat. This search led them to former Buffalo Bills receiver John Brown. Coming off of two seasons in Buffalo, one of which he had over 1,000 yards receiving, Brown had made a name for himself as one of the NFL’s resident deep threats.
This speed appeared to make a lethal combination with second-year player Henry Ruggs III, much in the same way Agholor did. Alas, it just didn’t click for Brown in Las Vegas. The first indication was his playing time in the preseason. Where most of the starters and big names were on the bench, Brown was out there with the rookies fighting for a spot. He would ask for his release in August before ever playing a game for the Raiders.
After leaving, he spent time with three other teams in 2021. He appeared in four games, was targeted three times, and didn’t record any catches. A free agent again in 2022, it is likely that his career is over.
Willie Snead, Wide Receiver
Another big-name wide receiver, Snead, hung around in Vegas a bit longer than Brown. He had been known as a crafty slot receiver throughout his career, and he had spent three reliable but unspectacular years in Baltimore. Signed to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, he was expected to give Carr another weapon.
Unfortunately for Snead, his time in Vegas is remembered for one thing. In Week 1, against the Baltimore Ravens, Snead had a chance to walk the game off with a touchdown in overtime. Instead, the ball would jump out of his hands and eventually be an interception. It was no doubt an embarrassing moment for him. He would see just four targets over the next six games. He was eventually granted his release and spent the rest of the season with the Carolina Panthers.
Richie Incognito, Guard
The story of the Raiders’ 2021 offseason was the sweeping changes made across the offensive line. While veteran leaders Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson were traded away, Incognito was kept in the fold. This, after playing in just two games in 2020, was definitely a gamble. However, he was still an effective player when on the field.
Alas, this scenario did not arise for the Raiders in 2021. After aggravating an injury in the preseason, Incognito was sent to the IR with hopes that he would make it back near the middle of the season. This did not happen either and he instead missed the entire 2021 season. This problem was further exacerbated by the lack of experience at the guard spot. After Denzelle Good went down, the two spots were mostly manned by John Simpson and Alex Leatherwood. The veteran presence of Incognito was certainly missed. At 38 years old, Incognito’s career is likely over.
*Top Photo: D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press