With the franchise tag period lasting into early march, we are watching a slow moving game of musical chairs. The music stops on March 6 and whichever players are still standing without a seat head for free agency.
At that point, many of free agency’s top pass rushers will be taking a seat with their current team under the franchise tag. But not all of them. And you can bet the Raiders will be going hard after the remaining player.
Bill Barnwell Friday has several big name free agent dominoes falling and where he thinks those dominoes will fall. First up he has the Raiders as the most likely team to land Lions’ pass rusher Ezekial Ansah.
The Raiders sign Ansah to a five-year, $80 million deal
One way to try to make your fans forget that you traded away Khalil Mack is to go out and sign the best pass-rusher on the market. Ezekiel Ansah isn’t Mack, but if the Raiders sign him and then draft an edge defender with the No. 4 pick, they could solve their post-Mack woes.
Oof, a five-year deal for a pass rusher who will be 30 in May? We’ll see.
Barnwell also has the Raiders listed as the third option for running back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell signs a five-year, $85 million deal with the Raiders
If owner Mark Davis and coach Jon Gruden want to distract their fans from the disaster of the past 12 months, they might land on Le’Veon Bell as a viable building block for the upcoming move to Las Vegas. The Raiders would probably have to pay a premium to sign Bell. Could they guarantee $50 million?
The way he figures it, if the Jets — his second option — land Bell, the dominoes would fall in such a way that Oakland would then sign running back Mark Ingram. A move I could certainly see happening as well.
Mark Ingram on a three-year, $19 million pact
Marshawn Lynch is a free agent, and while the Raiders got by with Doug Martin in 2018, Ingram would give them a primary back to take some of the workload off Derek Carr and the passing game. It might be the 29-year-old’s last chance to cash in as a starter.
It gets kinda crazy from there. He sees the Jaguars as the top destination for Teddy Bridgewater and that move leading to a series of quarterback moves across the NFL including draft prospect Kyler Murray slipping out of the top ten and the Raiders trading up to get him.
The Raiders trade up to draft Kyler Murray
Oakland, which has three first-round picks, probably has to draft help for its abysmal pass rush at No. 4. But if Murray skips past the Giants (No. 6) and Jaguars (No. 7), the Raiders could move up for the Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma. The 24th and 35th selections are a near-perfect match on the traditional draft chart for No. 11 overall, where the Bengals pick.
That would in turn have Jon Gruden sending Derek Carr to his brother in Washington who lost Alex Smith to a major leg injury.
Oakland trades Derek Carr to Washington
You know Jay Gruden will get a good scouting report on Carr from his brother, Jon. The Raiders are rebuilding, and with the reports that Alex Smith is unlikely to play in 2019 (if ever again), Carr obviously knows the scheme, although he would likely have to take a pay cut. This scenario would cost Washington only a fourth-round pick.
For what it’s worth he also has a scenario in which the Raiders trade for Nick Foles from the Eagles. The scenario? If the Broncos trade for Joe Flacco, which they’ve already agreed to do. Oddly, in this scenario, he has the Raiders keeping both Foles and Carr to compete for the starting job. That’s an awful lot of money tied up in the QB position when only one can start.
Another scenario has the Raiders signing a big wide receiver.
Oakland signs Devin Funchess to a three-year deal
The Raiders might have to pay a premium to attract free agents, but it would make sense for them to go after a younger option at wideout like the 24-year-old Funchess. Jon Gruden valued tall receivers like Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall during his time in Tampa. This deal would max out at $38 million over three years.
I’m sure Bill Barnwell had a lot of fun dreaming these up. And the fans are probably having fun imagining them actually happening. And, sure, they could. I mean if you predict enough scenarios, you’re bound to hit on some of them, right?