The Raiders continued to retool their roster on Saturday, coming to terms with four free agents, the headliner being veteran wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who has started 62 games during his five NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition, the Raiders re-signed back running back Rod Smith, who appeared in the Raiders’ last three games last season as a special teams player, veteran offensive lineman Eric Kush and tight end Nick O’Leary.
Agholor brings starting experience and production, although he’s coming off a down season in which a knee injury limited him to just 39 receptions for 363 yards. For his career, the former USC star and 2015 first-round pick has 224 receptions for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Agholor has yet to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season.His best season came in 2017 when he had 62 receptions for 768 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Raiders have made improving their wide receiver position a priority this offseason, specifically finding a dynamic perimeter weapon to replace Antonio Brown, whose sudden departure just before the regular season last year left a gaping hole. That quest will continue in next month’s draft, which features a wide receiver group as deep as any class in recent memory.
The Raiders, armed with the 12th and 19th pick overall and five picks among the first 91 picks, should have their pick among at least two of the top three prospects in the draft — Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. All three are projected as immediate difference makers.
Depth and more dependable options are also pressing needs, and Agholor certainly addresses those issues. He joins a wide receiver room that includes Hunter Renfrow, an emerging young slot weapon, Tyrell Williams, who is coming off an injury- plagued season in 2018 in which he dealt with plantar fasciitis in both feet, and Zay Jones, Marcell Ateman, Rico Gafford and Anthony Ratliff-Williams.
Agholor could push for a starting job in 2020, especially with the Raiders’ draft plans still uncertain, or he could fit in as a fourth wide receiver.
Smith has spent time with Dallas, Seattle and Tennessee in his career, amassing 364 yards rushing with five touchdowns.
Kush provides depth for the offensive line, having started seven games for the Browns last year and seven games for the Bears the year before. In all, Kush has started 19 games in his career since the Chiefs drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
O’Leary brings another veteran tight end into the fold. He spent time with both Jacksonville and Miami last season and made 13 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. For his five-year career, O’Leary has 53 receptions for 668 yards with four touchdowns. He’s the second veteran tight end the Raiders have brought in this week, joining Jason Witten.