As the Las Vegas Raiders descend into the offseason and free agency moves. One of their biggest decisions starts from the offensive side of the ball.
Nelson Agholor, the former Philadelphia-exile that rejuvenated his career in Las Vegas, is currently up for a new contract. Throughout his season with the Raiders, Agholor led the wide receiver group in receiving yards, totaling 896 on 48 receptions. With these accolades to his name, re-signing Agholor should be a no-doubter. But, the Raiders should consider, more specifically, another wide receiver, on the team.
The Bama Threat
Henry Ruggs was Las Vegas’ first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, unlike his other first-round wide receiver counterparts, Ruggs contributed about as much as one would expect a late-round pick to produce. While rookies like Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Jerry Jeudy made names for themselves in their inaugural seasons, Ruggs struggled. Understandably, if Ruggs played with a crowded wide receiver corps, like Tampa Bay. Yet, his 452 receiving yards rank him fourth on the team. In other words, he still played meaningful minutes, relative to the rest of the team.
The problem with resigning Agholor is how he may take away targets that may be destined for Ruggs. Some of Agholor’s most famous catches in the Silver and Black came from deep routes, streaks, and posts, that most football fans would prefer to go to their fastest receiver. As fans saw in his 72-yard touchdown against Kansas City, Ruggs has the talent to be that receiver for the Raiders, but the plays he runs are not designed for that receiver.
Upon his drafting, all signs pointed to Henry Ruggs starting as the wide receiver one (WR1, or best receiver). Tyrell Williams, Nelson Agholor, and Hunter Renfrow would pick up the slack behind him. Obviously, Williams missed the entire season. Ruggs and Derek Carr could not seem to end up on the right page on gameday.
It is entirely possible that the Raiders intended Ruggs to be a decoy to draw cover away from Agholor, but if that is the case, it is incredibly embarrassing that Las Vegas would waste a pick on a decoy with John Ross available to be signed and countless defensive playmakers still available to be drafted. It all begs the question of whether or not Agholor is holding Ruggs back. Throughout the NFL, rookie wide receivers thrived, yet Ruggs could not. It is not exactly arguable that Ruggs is a better receiver than Agholor, but the former Eagle’s production is too valuable to be without. This forces the Raiders into a difficult situation.
The Raiders are completely capable of riding Agholor as the WR1. In contrast, one big play from Ruggs is not enough to justify resigning when his rookie deal is over. If Ruggs is not going to re-sign after his rookie deal expires, the Raiders need to address this sooner than later. Either way, the team needs to start making deep playoffs runs like this.