Now that the franchise tags have been designated, we can officially rule out pipe dream options like Davante Adams or Chris Godwin. Also, Mike Williams got a new deal, so there is no chance of the Las Vegas Raiders stealing him from the Los Angeles Chargers either. However, the Raiders still need a true number one outside receiver. Here are their best options that could actually happen in free agency.
Some honorable mentions in NFL free agency…
Will Fuller V
Fuller would basically replace what the Raiders had with Henry Ruggs III. However, Fuller has less upside and is injury prone. He has also proven that he cannot be a team’s number one receiver.
Like with Fuller, the Raiders would just be getting a deep threat here. While that is a need, the Raiders could use something more.
What are some realistic options for the Raiders?
No. 3 Michael Gallup
Ever since Dallas drafted CeeDee Lamb, Gallup has flown under the radar. With Lamb and Amari Cooper around, there has not been a lot of work for Gallup. Prior to that, Gallup looked like a budding star for the Cowboys. He had over 1,000 yards receiving in just 14 games. If he winds up in a situation where he is playing a higher percentage of the offensive snaps, there is a chance he could pick up where he left off in his sophomore campaign. The fact that he has flown under the radar the last two seasons should keep him from breaking the bank as well. According to Spotrac, the former Cowboy has a market value of around $47 million over four years.
Another thing to consider with Gallup is his fitness. His ability to play both “X” and “Z” alleviates that concern a lot. He can stretch the field vertically and find openings in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Given that the Raiders already have a lot of other weapons that they like to move around a lot, Gallup could be a great fit.
No. 2 D.J. Chark
A lack of speed at wide receiver was a major issue last year after the Raiders lost Ruggs. Vegas tried bringing in DeSean Jackson, but that didn’t work out so well. A receiver like Chark would give the Raiders a real deep threat again. Chark is a bit more one-dimensional than Gallup, but his playing speed is hard to find. The Raiders already have two dynamic receiving targets in Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Those two need a burner on the outside to give them more space to get open.
Chark is a realistic option. So much so that the Raiders are allegedly already pursuing him. If they do land the former Jaguar, he should not be too costly, either. According to Spotrac, his market value is almost identical to Gallup’s.
No. 1 Allen Robinson
No surprises here. Pro Football Focus’s highest ranked free agent wide receiver that is actually available is also the Raiders’ best option. He is the only true number one wideout available. While his numbers over the last few years might not scream “he’s that guy,” those stats need context. Mitch Trubisky was probably the best quarterback he played with in Chicago. Heck, he was putting up better numbers in Jacksonville when Blake Bortles was throwing him the ball. Derek Carr would be by far the best quarterback Robinson has ever played with, even going back to his Penn State days with former Raiders preseason legend Matt McGloin. Who knows what having a top-10 quarterback will do for a guy who has played with fringe-starters his whole career?
Robinson’s fit with the Raiders seems solid too. The Raiders desperately need another weapon in the red zone. The six-foot-two Robinson might be just the big receiver they need. He is the type of receiver that the Raiders have really not had since Michael Crabtree. Carr had a ton of success hitting him on those back shoulder fades. What is arguably Robinson’s best route? The back shoulder fade. The one thing that Robinson doesn’t have is blazing speed. However, he can beat man coverage in enough other ways that he can still stretch the field.
There are a few minor concerns with the former Bear. Heading into his eighth season, there is concern that his prime years could be running out. Robinson will likely net a hefty contract. The last year or two could be rough if he starts to decline while making $17 million a year. This becomes less concerning when you remember that Robinson is only 28. He would be 32 at the end of a four-year deal. Also, the money may seem like a lot given his raw numbers over the past few years, but it actually isn’t that bad. When you consider the fact that many of the top receivers in the league are making north of $20 million a year, it would actually be on the cheap side.
At the end of the day, if the Raiders are set on getting someone to be “that guy,” Robinson is the only real option. They could wait for the draft, but that’s a crapshoot. Maybe they could swing a big trade, but you can’t count on that either. Robinson will have a ton of suitors. The Raiders will need to act quickly. He should be a top priority.
*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images