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Will Raiders lock up any players prior to free agency?

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4 pending free agents who Mike Mayock may be speaking to already

Los Angeles Chargers v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The NFL free agency period begins on March 18 and teams are permitted to begin talking to pending free agents beginning on March 16 at 4 PM ET. Moves will be announced so soon after 4 PM that you may wonder how it is possible that teams could do so without tampering and you wouldn’t be alone. In the case of Tom Brady, it’s already been known that teams will tamper and that the New England Patriots are not going to take teams to Roger Goodell court over it. But any pending free agents for the Las Vegas Raiders could stop being Raiders as soon as March 16.

Should Vegas make sure to lock in any of those players prior to that date, with basically a week left to go before it happens?

Karl Joseph, S

The most likely player to be in a negotiation with Mike Mayock is probably Joseph and this is for a number of reasons that go well beyond his play on the field through his first four seasons, which we know hasn’t come close to the expectations of being the 14th overall pick. Though Joseph may have been disappointing, he’s also an excellent candidate for a one-year contract.

Injuries and inconsistency may have been the main catalyst towards Mayock not picking up Joseph’s fifth-year option in 2019, but he had started a career-high nine games last season before a foot injury landed him on injured reserve. Prior to that, he was feeling very confident about his play.

“I think, as a team, we really started to click. That’s especially true in the secondary,” Joseph, who formally placed on injured reserve, said Friday. “It wasn’t just me necessarily. I think I was playing good ball, but we were coming together. I really believe we started to play good football and I wanted to be part of it moving forward.

”We have a strong chance to go to the playoffs. That’s what is frustrating part for me.”

I think of recent one-year deals for players like DeVante Parker, Tyrann Mathieu, and I think that’s a direction that Joseph can attempt to go in. If the Raiders believe that he can help them next season and alleviate the need to find a safety in free agency or the draft, then he’s certainly worth pursuing before March 16 and if he’s open to betting on himself for a one-year deal, why not?

Last year, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Chicago Bears. Maybe Joseph wants to test the market, especially if Vegas is only offering a one-year deal, but he may decide that he’d rather dance with the devil he knows. Does the devil want to dance with him though?

Benson Mayowa, DE

Well, it wasn’t a bad season for Mayowa. Playing 302 snaps, including 252 in pass rushing situations, Mayowa finished with a career-high seven sacks plus 10 QB hits. He is not an elite edge rusher or even a great one. Or even a good one. I don’t think doubling his snaps gets a team 14 sacks. With that, I don’t think Mayowa will be heavily pursued in what will be an abnormally-stacked pass rushing market.

However, it may not be as fruitful in the draft and perhaps that is also a reason that the Raiders would want to test out what he’s looking for on one-to-three year deal. And if it’s three years, really it’s just one year with some nice stuff tacked on if he really succeeded unexpectedly.

Mayowa has bounced around, including two trips to Oakland, would he be open to making Vegas a more permanent home and does Mayock feel mutually?

Daryl Worley, CB

A 25-year-old cornerback with 49 career starts is not someone who you’d want to ignore in free agency and that may be exactly why Worley needs to get to March 16 as a free agent unless the Raiders take his mind off of it with a serious offer.

Worley has started 24 of a possible 32 games at corner for Gruden in the last two years and though he’s not great, he is young and he has looked better than that. Because corners are so hard to find, I think his market is hard to predict and his final contract figures may be surprising to many. There’s always the risk that the Raiders will end up worse at corner by not re-signing Worley, but in the modern game, against quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes twice a year and so forth, it may be worth it to try and get better.

Dion Jordan, DE

Perhaps Jordan takes priority over Mayowa, just as he did in the second half of last year. Vegas may also choose to see if they can satisfy Jordan with a one or two-year deal that secures him a certain amount of guaranteed money that comes after literally seven years of trying to establish himself as a good NFL player that you can count on.

It is because teams have not been able to count on Jordan that could keep him available on the market for some time after March 18, however.