The addition of elite wide receiver Davante Adams via trade last offseason was an “all-in type of maneuver” for the Las Vegas Raiders. It was a bombastic splash that signaled to the NFL viewing world that the Silver and Black were in it to win it. That splash was made by the Raiders and their new power duo of head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.
It didn’t quite work out that way. The no-excuse, all-in season was a bust. The 6-11 record is a testament to that. And the excuses? Oh, the excuses! From quarterback Derek Carr to the defense to the play-calling, the extenuation was ever-present in a disconcerting 2022 campaign.
But does that mean being bold should be tossed out the window? Hell. No. If the 2022 faceplant dissuades the power combo of McDaniels and Ziegler from being daring, then fire them now. But let me stress this: It doesn’t mean they should be reckless. McDaniels and Ziegler must be a dauntless duo if the Raiders are indeed serious about winning. Because that is how the head coach and general manager keep their jobs after Year 2: they win. Owner Mark Davis expects nothing less.
And in order to get there, McDaniels and Ziegler made quite the intrepid move with just two games left in 2022. See what they had at the quarterback position beyond Carr. What was the result of that? The answer to the quarterback position in Las Vegas isn’t on the roster currently. Yet, the audacity of benching a nine-year veteran signified something important: The time for the p*ssyfoot Raiders is clearly over.
The Raiders, Josh McDaniels, and Dave Ziegler: “Who Dares Wins”
The next Silver and Black signal caller is a paramount decision, as McDaniels noted in his season-ending press conference. The Raiders need to ship one off while bringing in another one. Being daring in free agency and the trade market is essential here. Las Vegas may think it can be shrewd when it comes to trading Carr, but reality will sink in that the leverage lies with the former QB. Interested teams know the Raiders need to offload Carr, and premium draft picks may not be in order.
But who knows?
Having to release Carr and get nothing in return is a possibility, but McDaniels and Ziegler shouldn’t be afraid of that scenario. They’d already washed their hands clean of DC4.
The daring maneuver here, of course, is landing a quarterback like Tom Brady. His contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers triggered void years, and once they’re done in the postseason, TB12 will hit free agency in March.
There’s always a chance the Bucs could re-sign Brady, but that ship has likely sailed. There are similarly audacious moves, such as acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett, but on different levels.
Give me another McDaniels prodigy in Jacoby Brissett. Heâ€™ll be cheap as well. Stiddy is your QB2. Invest your ðŸ’´ in getting a defense.pic.twitter.com/ToFqDKwC9S https://t.co/qfInpJ9Sob
— Mario Tovar (@_MarioTovar) January 10, 2023
Are the Raiders going to pay Josh Jacobs this offseason?
The Josh Jacobs conundrum is equally paramount to the McDaniels-Ziegler-led Raiders. The 2022 NFL rushing king galloped for an impressive 1,653 yards on 340 carries (4.9 yards per carry average) with 12 touchdowns.
Ziegler boldly declined to pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year option (a standard contract option for first-round picks that teams can choose to pick up or not), and the fourth-year running back defied expectations and is set to earn a sizable payday — from the Raiders or someone else.
Jacobs expressed his desire to remain a Raider throughout the season, and both McDaniels and Ziegler have been extremely complimentary of No. 28. Does that mean a new contract and a long-term commitment?
If Ziegler stays true to the New England Patriots roots he learned oh so well, there is no chance he opens up the Raiders’ coffers and hands Jacobs a big-money deal. The Patriot Way is finding capable tailbacks in the draft and free agency and churning out production without breaking the bank.
Jacobs remaining in the mix as a reliable workhorse running back may be more appealing to a certain QB â€“ ahem, TB12 â€“ to join the Silver and Black. Just sayin’.
Dave Ziegler and the Raiders 2023 Draft Board
The key to any offseason moves Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler envision is having the resources to do so. Draft capital is rich, and the departure of Carr frees up sizable cap cash, giving Las Vegas a favorable spot in both free agency and the NFL Draft in March and April, respectively.
What happens in free agency can dictate what the Raiders do the following month. And this bears watching.
If Ziegler and his scouting staff fall in love with a prospect and note that a potential pick will not be available at No. 7, perhaps trading up is a possibility. Flip it, and if the team believes it can get a prospect later, maybe a trade down (especially if a quarterback falls to the Raiders at seven).
The bold move in the draft, of course, is Las Vegas trading up to take a quarterback.
We discussed some free agency splashes the team can make above. Given the limited roster, there are several more that can be added. But for a team to be truly sustainable, it must be able to identify prospects, select said collegiate athletes, and properly develop them. That isn’t something the Raiders have been known for.
Yes, the 2019 draft saw the team develop five of the nine draft picks into standouts and contributors (Jacobs in the first round, Maxx Crosby in the fourth round, Hunter Renfrow in the fifth, Clelin Ferrell in the first, and Foster Moreau in the fourth). But there’s only one remaining prospect from the 2020 draft (Amik Robertson, fourth round) still on the roster.
While free agency is always a nice way to find a starter or two to supplement the roster, homegrown drafted talent is where you keep the salary cap manageable. Sure, you can argue that, before long, you have to pay out on prospects that pan out, but that’s two to three years down the road. In the meantime, you have that cheap rookie contract to work withâ€”especially at quarterback. Funny that we keep circling around to that position, huh?
*Top Photo: Christopher Devargas/Las Vegas Sun