Raiders could prioritize offensive line, receiver in free agency
The Raiders have significant needs at offensive line and wide receiver, and several quality players at those positions will be available in free agency.
The Raiders’ new regime of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler will get an up-close look at the top draft prospects next week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
The event will give them a better idea of how many needs they can address through the draft. What they decide will help set the course for their plans for free agency, which begins March 14.
The handle the Raiders get on the draft will play a major role in determining the direction they take in free agency.
As the Raiders sit today, they have significant needs at wide receiver and offensive line. Beyond that, reinforcements probably will be needed along the defensive line, linebacker and secondary to suit new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s system.
Here’s a look at how the Raiders might prioritize free agency and whom they might target:
So much of what the Raiders do upfront depends on what they do with Alex Leatherwood and Denzelle Good. Leatherwood was drafted in the first round last year to play right tackle, but the combination of right guard Good suffering a season-ending injury in the opener and Leatherwood struggling at tackle forced the Raiders to slide Leatherwood to guard three games into the season.
Good is under contract for 2022, and his background at guard and tackle gives the Raiders flexibility in what direction they take with Leatherwood. But whether Leatherwood stays at guard or returns to tackle, expect the Raiders to invest in the open position.
If that turns out to be right tackle, keep an eye on Jets free agent Morgan Moses, a steady, reliable 30-year-old who would be an instant upgrade.
The Raiders also could look to Seattle’s Duane Brown. He will turn 37 this year, but he continues to play at a steady, reliable level, and as a one- or two-year option, he would fit exactly what the Raiders need.
Should the Raiders decide Leatherwood is more suited at tackle, they will be in the market for a guard and possibly two depending on how they assess John Simpson, who played left guard last season to mixed results.
The good news is the interior offensive line market is strong in free agency, and the Raiders could target multiple options at affordable prices.
Washington’s Brandon Scherff is at the top of the market, and his price tag will reflect that distinction. He’s arguably a top 10 player at his position and represents a huge upgrade.
But there are several other strong options, including Tampa Bay’s Alex Cappa, Chicago’s James Daniels, the Rams’ Austin Corbett and San Francisco’s Laken Tomlinson.
With so much focus on Green Bay’s Davante Adams — and rightfully so given his ties to Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and how they have talked about playing together — it’s sometimes easy to overlook there are other intriguing candidates.
The cost to get Adams to Las Vegas, whether through a trade or free agency, will be prohibitive. And making that type of investment would appear to be a departure from the blueprint McDaniels and Ziegler worked from in New England.
Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin also could price himself out of consideration, though the knee injury he suffered late last season could figure into his next contract. Chicago’s Allen Robinson might be the best fit in terms of finances and talent, and getting him into a stable quarterback situation will unlock some of the production left on the table the past two seasons with the Bears.
The Chargers’ Mike Williams and Jacksonville’s D.J. Clark also are possibilities.
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at email@example.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.
Three free agent targets at priority positions for the Raiders:
2021 team: Bears
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 8 years
2021 salary: $17.8 million
2021 team: Jets
Position: Offensive tackle
Experience: 8 years
2021 salary: $3.6 million
2021 team: Buccaneers
Experience: 4 years
2021 salary: $2.3 million