It is the third offseason between the marriage of Mayock and Gruden. On the surface I have mixed feelings about the moves that have taken place through March as we head full speed ahead towards the NFL Draft. Let us dive into some of my opinions thus far.
Releasing Tyrell Williams is a move that I agree with and saw coming once he was ruled out of the 2020 season. After a lack luster end to the 2019 campaign and missing 2020, his very expensive contract no longer made sense. Combined with the additions of Ruggs and Edwards his writing was on the wall. It is a shame because I think under better circumstances he could have been a great WR. In 2019 he started hot and validated his contract. Then injuries set in and, as they say, the rest is history… just like his career in Silver and Black.
Not resigning Nelson Agholor. Agholor was far and away the best WR on the 2020 Raiders. I believe it was Gruden who said it best, “He played his way out of Vegas”. He was the butt of many, many jokes from Eagles fans and it was nice to see him prove what he is capable of with a fresh start. As much of a joy as it was to see a WR get open consistently and make splash plays on almost a weekly basis, to keep him would have meant over paying him. That money needs to be spent elsewhere. I am still high on the young receiving group and personally I would rather see them on the field anyway.
Adding John Brown. I am neutral about this move. I understand they are trying to bring in the next Agholor. I am not sure if they will go two for two honestly. Hopefully he and Willie Snead add adequate veteran depth and security but don’t take playing time away from Ruggs, Edwards, and Renfrow.
I like the addition of Kenyan Drake but I do not like the contract that came with the player. He’s a versatile player that will add value in both the run and pass game. Throughout his career he just always seems to make plays. He will no doubt have some time on the field as Josh Jacobs has yet to play a full season. Hopefully Vegas gets the most out of him over these next two expensive years.
Resigning Kolton Miller… gulp. Well I’ve gone from murderous rage whenever his name was brought up, to mild mannered anger, to Neutral. I think I deserve credit for this amount of progress. Is he making more money than he should be… probably. Did they resign him too early… maybe. In the big picture I am hoping it made sense to resign him rather just pick up his fifth year option. All in all… I think resigning him was the right move. He has been steadily improving every year since his joke of a rookie campaign and has developed into one of the better LTs in the NFL. If his trajectory continues and he puts out an even better 2021, I may have to put out an official apology statement.
Now let’s address the rest of the offensive line, or purge part two. My initial gut feeling about trading Trent Brown to New England for a bag of funions and VCR was utter distain. And then I saw this comparison photo of Trent during his initial time in NE compared to Vegas and it clearly showed how much of a sloppy fat ass he had become. It put his injury plagued 2020 season into perspective. While it is a shame the Raiders could not get more in return for Brown, I am ok with his departure.
Next up, Gabe Jackson. Overrated, overpaid, glad to seem him off the roster. He was not necessarily a bad starting guard, he just took up too much cap space for what he was. Next up, Richie Incognito. Played roughly three snaps in 2020. Was cut. Was resigned. I am assuming his resigning came with a pay cut, which makes me on board with bringing him back. He may be old but he is that classic, hit you in the mouth, tough guy that belong on the Raiders line. I credit him for some of the improvement in Kolton Miller’s game. I think he needed that type of presence. Finally, Rodney Hudson. Largely considered one of the best centers in the league, as well as Carr’s team best friend, this loss hurts. I was very discouraged about this move but two things made it a little easier to stomach. One, it was Hudson who wanted out and 2, After reports said he was being cut, he ended up being traded to Arizona for a Third round pick. Getting that pick in return is exciting as Mayock has had some success drafting in the mid rounds. All in all, while on paper a strength of the team was just turned into a weakness, the fact of the matter is this starting group played mere snaps together in all of 2020. Throughout the 2020 season every week was a constant shuffle of starters but overall everyone who stepped in performed pretty well. I don’t think the level of blocking will drop off as much as it would seem with losing so many starters.
Yannick Ngakoue has been the big addition in free agency. I fully support this signing. It is hard to not support any attempt to bolster what has been one of the most pathetic pass rushes in the league for what seems like an eternity. Unlike overpaying Carl Nassib to contribute absolutely nothing last season, Ngakoue feels like they got it right this time. After showing such promise as a young pass rushing specialist in Jacksonville, 37.5 sacks in 63 games, his short career has turned into quite the whirlwind. For a tumultuous 2020 season Ngakoue had a sneaky good under the radar season. Finally moving on from Jacksonville via trade to Minnesota, only to be traded yet again to Baltimore and he still managed to tally 8 sacks in 15 games. With the 2021 season hopefully being more stable on a personal level and a league level, I think Yannick has the potential to give us a double digit sack season.
While we are on the topic of the defensive line I have to bring up Solomon Thomas. Largely considered a bust after being drafted 3rd overall by the 49ers, I am honestly excited to have him on the line. I think he can still turn his career around and perhaps shed the bust label. Really rooting for him to be Agholor 2.0. In reality it might be a tall order considering his lack of production on an all-star line in San Fran when there is not much in the way of help in the barren desert of Vegas.
Releasing Lamarcus Joyner. Flat out, this is addition by subtraction. He was another overpaid defender that under delivered. Before he played his first down in silver and black I remember writing about my skepticism. I felt that he was another undersized safety like Karl Joseph, and on the Raiders he wouldn’t have the security blanket in the form of Aaron Donald mauling everyone in his path, making the jobs of the 10 other guys easier. Like I thought he was exposed when the lack of surrounding talent was clearly visible.
Letting go of Raekwon McMillan go hurt me. He is a player I really liked in Miami and when he was added to the roster I unquestionably stated he was the best LB on the team. And here we are months later and I am stuck asking myself, what exactly was the point of trading for him? He got to Vegas and was relegated to the bench only seeing the field for a handful of snaps per game. Now he is in NE where I think he will prove me right and be the impact LB I know he can be.I know Nicholas Morrow is a coaching staff favorite but is not good. Improved last season? Yes. Good? No. I can’t justify starting him over McMillan.
I must say that I am much more confident in the start to this offseason compared to last season. The highs far outshine the lows this time in my opinion. They were able to free up some much needed cap space while dumping dead weight. Hopefully by next season we can give Carl Nassib and Cory Littleton the boot. At that point I think the major overpaid offenders will be purged. This year the Raiders were able to bring in some players with much better upside potential. Yannick and Thomas really do have the potential to improve the defensive line. Hopefully in the draft we can address Safety, defensive tackle, and linebacker
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