The Raiders have plenty of holes on the roster that need to be filled, and the first step in doing that is through free agency, which is set to begin on March 18th.
The team have roughly $50 million available at their disposal. Sure, we’d love to see them make a big splash on a Chris Jones, Yannick Ngakoue or Cory Littleton, but there is something to be said about finding value in free agency.
Here are some names that might fly a bit under the radar and come at a discount when free agency gets underway.
Marcus Mariota, QB, 26
The former second overall pick of the 2015 draft will most likely be looking for a new team in 2020 after being benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who then took the Titans on a memorable playoff run.
In five seasons with the Titans, Mariota amassed a 29-32 record with 76 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. Mariota is a career 62.9 percent passer. While he might not be an immediate upgrade to Derek Carr, maybe a change of scenery will invigorate the 26-year-old quarterback.
A little competition breathing down Derek Carr’s neck won’t hurt as well.
Shaq Lawson, DE, 25
To this point Lawson has been a colossal bust in Buffalo after being selected 19th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft.
That being said, Lawson fits the mold of a Paul Guenther defensive end (6’3-265 pounds) and is coming off his best season in Buffalo with 6.5 sacks and 32 tackles (13 for loss).
Buffalo declined to exercise Lawson’s fifth year option, making him a free agent in 2020. Lawson could replace Benson Mayowa’s production and spot as a situational pass rusher.
Blake Martinez, 26, LB
He might not be as coveted as Cory Littleton or Joe Schobert, but if the Raiders fail to land one of the sexy names at linebacker, Martinez is a good fallback option.
Martinez is a tackling machine, racking up 144, 144, and 155 stops in consecutive seasons. In 2019 he finished second in the league behind Bobby Wagner. He battled through multiple injuries this season but never missed a game.
There are flaws to his game, but he would certainly be an upgrade.
Jimmie Ward, FS, 28
Coming off his best season in 2019 playing full time at free safety, Ward hits free agency at just the right time. His age might keep teams from offering him long term deals, which could help him come at a discount.
Throughout his career Ward has played corner in the slot and on the outside, free safety, and strong safety. His versatility makes him an intriguing option for the Raiders.
Jarran Reed, DT, 27
Reed missed the first six games of the 2019 season due to violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Although Reed was never arrested or charged, the scent of domestic abuse could scare teams off.
In 2018 he registered 10.5 sacks, and the Raiders could obviously use some more pass rush in the interior of the defense.