With much-needed cap space, the Las Vegas Raiders can spend on veteran talent that could possibly give them the advantage in the AFC West.
The Raiders gained another $20 million in cap space after June 1. Rumors quickly surfaced about the team’s interest in Ndamukong Suh. The Raiders kicked the tire on another great DT from the same draft class last year, Gerald McCoy. McCoy looked good before getting hurt and missing the season. Veteran players could mean the difference.
Suh has been a lot more healthy than McCoy lately. He also played an integral part in Super Bowl runs with the Buccaneers and Rams. He is a versatile nose tackle who can play across the front and across schemes. That’s exactly what the Raiders need. The fans have always wanted Suh in Silver and Black. Plus, you can never hold too many defensive linemen. Remember the injuries suffered upfront last year. However, the Raiders already signed multiple veteran defensive linemen, drafted Matthew Butler, and brought back Johnathan Hankins. I always bang the table for the team to sign defensive linemen but this is the first year I feel confident in the rotation. Maybe there are injuries or someone not looking great.
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Either way, there are plenty of other veterans worth an investment. Who else should the Raiders consider besides Suh? Odell Beckham Jr. Is another player that makes sense for the Raiders. He’s a winner, a capable blocker, and works outside or inside. However, he is off an ACL injury suffered in 2022. Beckham might wait out for a contender anyway. Still, the Raiders’ greatest need is upfront.
Las Vegas should sign another offensive linemen to compete. Nate Solder is over thirty but he can play both tackle spots. Solder won two rings in the Pats system which should make it easy to get up to speed with Josh McDaniels leading the Raiders. Quinton Spain also started a lot of games for the Bengals but he is limited to only guard. McDaniels values versatility. Thus, Ereck Flowers makes the most sense if the price is right. He was slated to make almost $10 million for this upcoming season. Flowers can play guard or tackle and was selected in the first round before because of his combination of athleticism, length, and size. He is also under 30 years old.
Back to the receiver position. Julio Jones and Emmanuel Sanders, along with OBJ, are the biggest brand names left on the open market. However, the Raiders really just need a speed specialist to compete with Demarcus Robinson. Desean Jackson makes sense for that and a fresh start might not be bad considering he joined the Raiders midseason. Jackson did help the Raiders win that Cowboys game.
Will Fuller is another player that makes more sense for the role and probably brings more upside. He played in a Pats-adjacent scheme with Bill O’Brien and the Texans. Fuller is fast and can stretch the field. When he is healthy he can contribute as a second or third option. He would benefit from all the other talent around him and could finally reach his potential. Fuller should prove it and help the Raiders offense take deep shots. Davante Adams shouldn’t have to do it all himself.
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On defense, the Raiders could add any combination of veteran defensive linemen like Eddie Goldman or Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is an experienced hybrid down lineman for 3-4 schemes. Goldman is still young but flashed as a nose tackle when healthy. They could kick the tires on Danny Shelton or sign Larry Obujobi off a productive season ended by injury. However, the Raiders would be better off concentrating on the edge of their defense. Let’s see them add a third veteran rusher like former Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Maxx Crosby can slide inside along with Clelin Ferrell.
Raising The Bar?
Barr might not come cheap but he is a worthy investment. He could fill in as a standup rusher for both Crosby and Chandler Jones. He can slide to traditional linebacker duties alongside Denzel Perryman or Jayon Brown. Both guys have had injuries in the past. Perryman is off his best season but will need to learn a new scheme. Brown moves to a familiar scheme but is off a down year.
The Sands Of Time
Barr is up against his own decline but he could thrive in a new role. Let him use that speed, length, and leverage more as a rusher and spot him in run situations. He hasn’t been a primary rusher since UCLA. Barr brings experience in multiple defenses and could serve in the same way Kyle Van Noy provided versatility for the Pats’ defense. The Chargers have Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack but still added Van Noy as a third rusher and linebacker too. Trey Flowers is another player who could make sense for a similar role based on his ties to the Patriots’ schemes too. He is also younger than Barr. Yet, Flowers isn’t quite as versatile and he was a little more hurt than Barr.
Finally, the Raiders need some help in the secondary. Their current group is young, athletic, and versatile. I can’t wait to see them come together. Landon Collins is one player mentioned as a fit. It could make sense given the Raiders missed on Tyrann Mathieu. Jaquiski Tartt also got a lot of experience with the 49ers, despite dropping what could have been an NFC Championship interception. He could compete at free safety. However, the Raiders signed Duron Harmon and are testing Nate Hobbs at the spot. Harmon played all over the secondary in Atlanta and New England. They could use both in nickel and dime spots but the safety position could be set especially if Johnathan Abram responds to the new scheme and coaching staff.
Corner The Market
On the outside, there were the rumors of Stephon Gilmore. Xavier Rhodes is the next target up for Raider Nation after some better seasons with the Colts the last two years. Perhaps the Raiders will look to add another veteran corner. Joe Haden could bring a starting pedigree. Chris Harris brings championship experience and some added help inside too. Jimmy Smith can play safety or corner and bring some veteran swag. A.J. Bouye could also make sense and he has flirted with signing in Vegas before. These players will probably be available later in the season. For now, the Raiders should take a swing at some younger corners with upside. Let the young players battle it out and get better until you absolutely need to call in veteran assistance.
The Bengals proved the spot corner theory can get you as far as the Super Bowl. Look at all the recycled vets and draft pick rehashes they picked up. The Raiders could flex some of those names. However, there is one player among the corners available under age 30, who I’ve always wanted to be a Raider.
A Kingly Visit In Vegas?
Kevin King is from Oakland. He played safety and corner at Washington. He is big and could challenge at safety or corner. His best season cane in 2019 when he registered five interceptions. Last year he battled injuries but got one pick. Let’s find out if he can get back to his first-round potential. A change of scenery and maybe even a move to free safety might be smart. Players of King’s skillset are rare.
Overall, the Raiders hold the best roster in years. This is the first time in years you can make a reasonable explanation and role for each player projected to make the 53-man roster. Vegas should still make a few strategic investments by taking some flyers on under 30 players with athleticism left and something to prove. The Raiders should sprinkle in some veterans that offer winning pedigrees and versatility too. Their roster is not bulletproof. They could benefit from adding some more competition to help young players develop as well as a few players who could be clear upgrades. Vegas can make their roster even stronger with another player on both sides of the trenches, a third pass rusher, one more corner, and another receiver. They might not be able to address all those needs with only $20 million in cap space. They can still add a couple of impact players to prove it deals and another one out of the bargain bin.
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