Three down, one to go in our series of AFC West Offseason Reviews. The grand finale is that of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders had a very busy offseason. They started by relieving general manager Mike Mayock of his duties, and choosing not to retain interim head coach, Rich Bissaccia. That began the search of a new front office and coaching staff. A search that led them to former New England Patriots front office/coaching staff members, nabbing Dave Ziegler as general manager and Josh McDaniels as head coach. They rounded out the coaching staff with several former Patriots staff members highlight by offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, but the most notable addition would probably be adding Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator.
From there, the Raiders got busy reloading a roster that had just taken an injury/off the field depleted team to the playoffs, where they would lose to the eventual AFC Champions in the final seconds of the game.
Free Agents Lost:
CB Casey Hayward, WR Zay Jones, QB Marcus Mariota, DT Quinton Jefferson, FB Alec Ingold, LB Nicholas Morrow, DT Solomon Thomas and a few others.
Free Agents Retained:
OT Brandon Parker, DT Johnathan Hankins, OL Jermaine Eluemunor.
Free Agents Added:
EDGE Chandler Jones, DL Bilal Nichols, RB Brandon Bolden, CB Anthony Averett, WR Mack Hollinsm OG Alex Bars, FB Jakob Johnson, CB Darius Phillips, S Duron Harom, WR Keelan Cole, LB Kenny Young, LB Jayon Brown, DT Vernon Butler, WR Demarcus Robinson, RB Ameer Abdullah, EDGE Kyler Fackrell, LB Micah Kiser.
WR Davante Adams, CB Rock Ya-Sin
EDGE Yannick Ngakoue
Draft Selections Added:
OL Dylan Parham, RB Zamir White, DT Neil Farrell, DT Matthew Butler, OT Thayer Munford Jr, RB Brittain Brown
Notable Undrafted Free Agents Added:
LB Darien Butler, WR Justin Hall, CB Sam Webb
With the overhaul of the front office and coaching staff, it was inevitable that the Raiders would see quite a bit of turnover among the roster, which is evidenced above. The Raiders addressed a few areas in particular. Pass rush by adding Jones, getting younger and more skilled in man coverage by adding Ya-Sin/Averrett, and also replenishing Carr’s WR corps, by trading for the best receiver in football in Davante Adams after Carr’s offense was cut off at the knees last year after the loss of Henry Ruggs III in 2021.
On paper, the Raiders seems to have addressed some concerns on the roster, and re-tooling for the new regime quite well but a few question marks linger. How quickly can the coaching staff implement their scheme, and will wins come sooner or later? Will the young offensive line gel quickly and with the diversity evidenced by other Patriots’ offensive lines over the years? Will the younger Raiders’ secondary be up for the task?
The Raiders’ offseason gives plenty of reason to be confident in the path moving forward, re-tooling an already talented team around a solid QB on offense w/ strong weapons as well as a few notable standout players on defense. It also gives plenty of reason for skepticism including an entirely new front office/coaching staff trying to implement their scheme, an OL that is unproven at best/completely doomed at worst, and an entire team centered around a QB whose career accomplishments include a 0-1 career playoff record over his 9 years.
In a division full of playoff contenders, featuring a perennial AFC favorite like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Raiders are as difficult as the rest of their division foes to predict how they will fare in 2022. I believe certain pieces of their coaching staff has improved, certain pieces of their roster has improved, but it will all depend on how it all comes together this season as to whether they will find themselves in the thick of AFC Playoff contention or trying to keep themselves out of the AFC West basement, like they had finally gotten themselves out of in recent years.
In other words, it’s on you, Josh McDaniels, Derek Carr and company!