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Early Raiders’ punt return options

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Free agent addition Nelson Agholor may be in the mix

Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins
Nelson Agholor
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Raiders have worked hard to fill need areas in free agency so far and there may be some added competition at punt returner.

The Raiders have been looking for a dynamic punt returner for years.

With the draft still ahead, there is a chance the Raiders’ 2020 punt returner is not yet on the roster. However, if they add a receiver in the first round, I wouldn’t make the assumption that he’d be the returner. Teams usually keep their starting receivers out of the punt-return mix because of injury concerns.

Perhaps a lower-round draft pick, undrafted free agent or future a veteran free agent addition will take over the duties.

Until then let’s look at the contenders currently on the Raiders’ roster:

Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Nelson Agholor:
The only receiver the Raiders have added this offseason thus far. It has been reported he may be in the punt-return mix. Agholor was an explosive returner at USC. He had four touchdown returns on punts in two seasons for the Trojans. Yet, he hasn’t returned much in the NFL. He’s returned three punts for seven yards in five seasons for the Eagles. So, it’s not like he is the sure favorite to win the job.

Los Angeles Rams v Oakland Raiders
Keisean Nixon
Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

Keisean Nixon:
The second-year cornerback had three kickoff returns for 63 yards last season. Perhaps he could be in the punt return mix.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
Hunter Renfrow
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Hunter Renfrow:
Renfrow had five punt returns for 38 yards last season. He is expected to have an increased role as a receiver, so the Raiders may want to protect him from returning punts. But he’s an option.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Jalen Richard:
The backup running back had six returns for 21 yards last season. He has ability and he is a natural playmaker, but he’s had trouble holding into the ball on returns.

Conclusion: The punt returner may not be on the roster and there is no clear favorite. This is a job that will be won and lost in training camp and in the preseason.