The Raiders’ next move in free agency should probably be a trade. The $30 million in cap space dries up quickly with their activity in free agency plus those draft picks they will need to sign. That figure doesn’t include full contract details for Marcus Mariota, Maliek Collins, Eli Apple or Carl Nassib. A trade is necessary if they want to make any more moves in the secondary, backfield, pass rush, receivers or linebackers. Of course, Derek Carr might be the first trade chip to fall since the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota. Mariota could be Carr’s competition or replacement as bridge guy to whatever QB the Raiders end up selecting. That said, Gabe Jackson might be the easier piece to move.
Gabe Jackson is on the trade block mostly because his $9.6 million dollar contract is non-guaranteed. The team can cut or trade him without dead money. Denzel Good is a cheaper Replacement too. Obviously, the preference is to trade him over letting him walk for nothing.
What is Gabe Jackson worth?
Last year, the Raiders shipped Kelechi Osemele and a sixth round pick to the Jets for a fifth-rounder. Osemele was on a non-guaranteed contract and off an injury too. This offseason, we’ve seen pro Bowl guard Trai Turner essentially swapped to the Chargers for Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung who missed time for injury. Some of that pice tag had to do with the regime change and paying Turner. He must slate somewhere between there. Las Vegas could net a fourth or fifth-round pick for Jackson in an ideal world.
Jackson’s $9.6 salary won’t be easy to move. However, guards Ereck Flowers, Graham Glasgow and Halapoulivaati Vaitai all signed deals worth more than $10 million a season this free agency period.
Where will Jackson go?
Buffalo made sense until they brought back Quinton Spain on a three-year contract. Other guard needy teams like the Seahawks, Dolphins, Redskins, Pats, Chargers, Denver, Detroit and Atlanta all made investments in the position already this offseason. The Saints still have to consider bringing back Andrus Peat despite their cap issues. Otherwise, Jackson makes sense as a replacement. The Rams need to revamp their line but don’t have the cap space to play. Jets make sense too minus the fall out from last year’s trade for KO. Jackson might be too much deja vu for that.
Pittsburgh lost Ramon Foster to retirement after he started most of the decade. Reserve interior lineman B.J. Finney also signed a big contract with the Seahawks. Insert Jackson as a ready-made replacement. He’s a physical guard who fits nicely with the Steelers culture. Plus, Pittsburgh owes us one for those trash ass Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown deals. Still, this is a hard move to make given their cap space.
Cleveland still has a ton of cap space. Wyatt Teller started at guard for them for half the season. Jackson could bolster the unit over Teller or at least provide nice competition.
The Buccaneers already made a huge investment in Tom Brady. They mine as well add a solid guard to help protect him too.
They traded Trai Turner and expect Greg Van Roten to go elsewhere. Vegas should offer them a replacement in Jackson. The problem is Carolina appears headed for a full rebuild and traded for Jackson and his contract doesn’t help them with that. They could’ve retained either of their guys if they wanted to pay a guard that much.
Jacksonville also makes sense as Jackson is probably an upgrade over AJ Cann. However, it would take most of the Jaguars cap space to make it happen. Again, unlikely from a team that appears headed towards a full rebuild.
In the end, the Raiders may end up cutting Jackson. It’s hard to find a team that needs a starting guard and can afford to pay him almost $10 million. Surely, another team can extend Jackson and put some of that money on the backend. However, they might also prefer drafting a guard. Interior linemen are usually undervalued. The best ones can wait until the mid-rounds to get drafted. This also makes it easier for a Raiders trade partner to hold out a pick in hopes the team cuts Jackson outright. Otherwise, the Raiders could keep Jackson until the season. Injuries happen and then a team might give up a draft pick for the starting guard.
The End is Near
Can the Raiders keep Jackson if they still have other needs and have a cheaper and serviceable replacement in Dezel Good? That’s what the Raiders will weigh as they continue to shop Jackson in hopes of a pick and cap space to address other needs. Either way, their next move might be a trade. It could be Carr or Jackson. Regardless of who gets moved first, it appears the end is near for the Silver and Black’s 2014 draft class.