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Raiders mailbag: Fans want to know about salary cap, tight ends, QBs

Updated May 4, 2024 - 10:45 am

The NFL draft is over, but Raiders fans still have plenty of questions, especially about their quarterbacks.

Here is a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:

Ricardo Lopez (@RicardoL0305): You mentioned that although the Raiders will have $42 million in cap space after Jimmy Garoppolo officially comes off the books, they might not have that amount in cash. Can you elaborate on that? Do you think they have less?

Vincent Bonsignore: Like all teams, the Raiders’ football decision-makers have an operating budget set forth by ownership. That budget represents the cash they have to spend on the roster. So, just because a team is $50 million under the league-established salary cap, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have $50 million in the budget left to spend.

That said, with the salary cap set at $255.4 million and the Raiders currently on the docket for $202 million in cash, it’s safe to assume they have a good chunk of cash to spend. But some of that budget is likely earmarked for their pending free agents. Robert Spillane, Marcus Epps, Nate Hobbs, Malcolm Koonce and Divine Deablo are entering the final years of their contracts. So if the Raiders extend a few of them, as expected, that will eat into that cash.

Brazilian Raider (@brazilianraider): The Bears, under current Raiders offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, ran two tight end sets on 23.5 percent of their plays in 2023. Given the superior talent at the position in Vegas, should we expect an increase in that percentage?

Bonsignore: Now working with young tight ends Brock Bowers and Michael Mayer, expect Getsy to utilize 12 personnel — one running back, two tight ends and two wide receivers — at a much higher rate.

happyJ303 (@jasonjones303): Is there any chance the Raiders can push for another quarterback via trade or add one after the cuts start? Or should we be optimistic about what we have with all the receiving options?

Bonsignore: Barring a major surprise, the Raiders will enter the season with Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew as their top two quarterbacks.

Tiny Man Jones (@TinyManJones): Have you heard any rumblings that assistant general manager Champ Kelly might be in line for a new position as director of football operations or that general manager Tom Telesco will take that spot and Kelly will take over as GM? Kelly seems like a quality guy that the Raiders would want to keep in the building.

Bonsignore: No, I have not heard anything about that plan. Kelly is respected and will eventually get his chance to be a general manager. That could happen as early as next season.

PaperChaseMa$e (@paperchasemase): Based on the current roster with draftees and undrafted free agents, what is your win-loss projection for this season?

Bonsignore: A floor of seven wins and a ceiling of 10.

MrBlockbuster99 (@MrBlockbuster99): Was the backup plan (if no quarterbacks fell to 13) to build around Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew, or was it just the best player available who just happens to help out the quarterback room?

Bonsignore: The plan is to build the best possible roster, with the idea of eventually adding a franchise-caliber quarterback.

Ed Helinski (@MrEd315): What’s left for the Raiders to add to the roster before training camp? Are there any glaring holes?

Bonsignore: The Raiders will use organized team activities and minicamp to get a handle on what they have and might need. It’s definitely within reason that they add a starting-caliber cornerback and another right tackle candidate.

Andrew (@1AndrewK): In a league driven by quarterbacks, why didn’t general manager Tom Telesco address the position?

Bonsignore: The Raiders, who were drafting 13th, made competitive trade offers to move into range to draft Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. But the Commanders (No. 2) and Patriots (No. 3) were not willing to trade down. Why? Because they needed quarterbacks, too. And once the Falcons zeroed in on Washington’s Michael Penix, it’s dubious the Raiders could have swayed Atlanta with a trade offer without it being a massive overpay.

After those three players came off the board, the Raiders didn’t deem any other available quarterback better than what they currently have.

I’m not sure Kirk Cousins was an option in free agency, as he appeared to be focused on Atlanta. Even if he was interested in the Raiders, the cost — four years, $180 million, with $100 million guaranteed — might have been too much for them.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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