The Las Vegas Raiders enter 2020 free agency with about the 11th most cap space in the NFL, having $51.8 million to spend on free agents. The new league year commences on March 18th at 4 p.m Eastern Time. After that, teams will be allowed to sign unrestricted free agents.
The Raiders improved in 2019. That is not debatable. However, it feels like Las Vegas left a lot to be desired on the field this past season, and there is ample room for improvement. With the help of cap space and another year of multiple first-round draft picks, the Raiders hope to make a similar jump in 2020.
The Raiders should not have too hard of a time recruiting free agents this summer. They have new, state-of-the-art facilities, and impressive multi-billion-dollar stadium, and are now in the entertainment capital of the world. Not to mention, there is no state income tax in Nevada. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock should have no problem convincing players to play for the silver and black.
With free agency seemingly right around the corner, here are predictions for five of the newest Raiders come next season.
Marcus Mariota is a Jon Gruden quarterback. He is smart, limits turnovers, and can make plays with his legs. Mariota would also likely come cheap this summer, decreasing the risk of bringing him aboard.
Gruden does not seem totally sold one way or another on Derek Carr, so signing Mariota could provide an excellent safety option in the case Carr under-performs in the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas.
Look for Mariota to ink a short-term deal with the Raiders, as the team will bring him in as a safety net for the offense.
The Raiders desperately lack a receiver to stretch the field. Tyrell Williams was supposed to be that guy, but he has been hindered by injuries his whole career.
Robby Anderson is fast and is a genuine deep threat in the NFL. He can keep the defense honest and is a strong route runner. Anderson has been consistent with the Jets, surpassing 750 yards and scoring at least five touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.
There were rumors that New York was looking to move on from Anderson before the trade deadline this past season, so it is unclear if he will re-sign with the Jets. Mayock and Gruden will likely throw a decent amount of cash Anderson’s way.
Although it is anticipated the Raiders will add a receiver early on in the draft, Las Vegas has a lot of work to do at the position. Anderson will sign a three year deal with the Raiders, giving Derek Carr, or whoever is taking snaps for Las Vegas, another weapon on the outside.
3. Vic Beasley
Vic Beasley is not re-signing with Atlanta. The Falcons twitter account literally tweeted out they will not attempt to re-sign him. Since his impressive 2016 campaign when he racked up 15.5 sacks, Beasley has only been credited with 18 sacks in the last three seasons combined.
The Raiders need to completely revamp their defense, as it has been one of the worst units in the league for quite a while. The defense is in desperate need of more speed and better tackling, and Beasley has talent. He is also still only 27 years old.
Beasley will not command record-breaking money this off-season, so the Raiders can afford to take a chance on the Clemson product. Expect the Raiders to sign Beasley to a short-term ‘prove it’ deal, hoping to strike gold here.
The Raiders have not had a linebacker with Cory Littleton’s talent since, perhaps, Kirk Morrison. Littleton recorded 134 tackles last season, including 78 solo tackles. Last week, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas – Review-Journal reported that the expectation is Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden will make a big play for the former pro bowl linebacker.
The Raiders need to fix their linebacker problem at some point. It has been over a decade at this point. Cory Littleton has sideline-to-sideline speed and can rush the passer, as well. The Raiders would have to commit a lot of money to Littleton, but he would be worth it considering the state of the Raiders defense.
If the Raiders are serious about contending in the AFC, they need to spend big on their defense. Cory Littleton is an addition that immediately changes the Raiders’ defense. Bringing Littleton aboard, as well as the return of Johnathan Abram, would quickly change the tone of Las Vegas’s defensive unit. A four to five-year deal is expected for the 26-year-old.
1. Byron Jones
Byron Jones could be the most expensive addition for the Raiders this off-season. He is possibly the best cornerback in the free-agent class and one of the best in the league. The Raiders’ secondary is awful. It has been terrible for a long time. Byron Jones can come in and fix the secondary woes in the blink of an eye.
The Cowboys will have bigger things to worry about than Jones, as they need to focus on inking deals with both Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott. This will allow Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock to swoop in and convince Jones to sign with Las Vegas, becoming the new superstar cornerback in the long line of them for the Raiders franchise.
The Raiders have to find a way to play defense against the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Aaron Rodgers if they want a chance to become a respectable team. They cannot continue to give up 400 yards a game to opposing quarterbacks. If Byron Jones is a possible get, expect the Raiders to be aggressive in their pursuit.
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