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Raiders: 7 potential trade targets before deadline

Time's a tickin’ for the Raiders to make a move

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Kelce
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With the Las Vegas Raiders on a bye this week and the NFL’s trade deadline coming next Tuesday, I figured there’s no better time to look into a few players the Raiders could target.

For each player below, I included their key stats and Pro Football Focus grades from this season, as well as reasons why it would make sense for Las Vegas to make a move for each player and any potential hurdles or hesitations the team might have. In other words, I put my black scally cap on and pretended I’m Mike Mayock, just in time for Halloween.

Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Kelce
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Stats: 11 pressures allowed (1 sack, 10 hurries), 97.9 pass-blocking efficiency rating

2021 PFF Grades: 84.9 overall (ranks 2nd among Cs), 61.3 pass-blocking (ranks 20th), 93.2 run-blocking (ranks 1st)

Why it makes sense

Yes, Andre James is coming off the best game of his season, coincidently, against Jason Kelce’s Eagles. However, James’ recent performance doesn’t erase the previous six where he’s struggled, especially as a run blocker.

The ground game is where Kelce would make the biggest impact for the Raiders, as he’s still one of the league’s best in that area. Las Vegas currently averages 3.5 yards per carry as a team, which is the second-worst in the NFL behind the Houston Texans, so the veteran center could help the rushing attack get up to par.

While Kelce’s pass protection isn’t quite what it used to be, he’s still graded out slightly higher than James (55.8) and has allowed the same amount of pressures, meaning the team wouldn’t be losing anything in regards to protecting Derek Carr.

Would this stunt James’ growth as a developing player? Potentially, but he’d also get a chance to learn behind one of the best centers in the game, again. Plus, the Silver and Black have a chance to make Super Bowl run so they don’t have time to wait for someone to grow this season.

Why it wouldn’t work

Kelce’s contract is complicated and he received a contract extension in the offseason - though he can still be a free agent in 2022 - that includes a bunch of voided years and makes it so the Eagles wouldn’t get much cap relief by dealing him. Philadelphia would likely be looking for a lot of draft capital as the selling point to move him since they wouldn’t benefit that much financially.

Also, I’m not sure how much Kelce would want to leave Philly. That’s the team that drafted him and he strikes me as a loyal guy who would want to ride it out with the Eagles, especially since he already has a ring.

From the Raiders’ perspective, the biggest question facing Mayock and Co. would be if it’s worth bringing in a 34-year-old center for a year or two while risking the future with James? James has already sat behind one elite center in Rodney Hudson, and Kelce would likely be a rental who they’d probably cut in the offseason anyway.

Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Dillard
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

2021 Stats: 14 pressures allowed (1 sack, 13 hurries), 96.0 pass-blocking efficiency rating

2021 PFF Grades: 68.5 overall (ranks 32nd among OTs), 57.0 run blocking (ranks 61st), 75.8 pass blocking (ranks 15th)

Why it makes sense

Since about Week 2 of last season, Las Vegas has been on the hunt for a new right tackle. They were hoping first-round pick Alex Leatherwood would end the search, but he’s now playing guard after struggling on the outside for the first five games of the year. Brandon Parker has been the team’s second option, but he hasn’t proven to be the solution either.

Andre Dillard probably wouldn’t be the Raiders’ long-term answer, but he’s got two years left on a relatively cheap rookie contract and is stuck behind Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson in Philadelphia.

Now, Dillard wouldn’t give the Silver and Black much of a boost in the ground game, but he would be an improvement in pass protection. Dating back to his days playing under Mike Leach at Washington State, that’s always been the former Cougar’s strong suit as he’s an athlete with good feet.

Why it wouldn’t work

Even in college, Dillard has exclusively played left tackle. When Johnson missed time this season, Mailata moved to the right side while Dillard filled on the left, suggesting that he might not comfortable or good on the right.

Dillard isn’t good enough, or enough of a proven commodity, to even consider moving Kolton Miller to the right side. The current Eagle struggled to get playing time as a rookie, missed all of 2020 with an injury, and is now playing a reserve role with Mailata’s emergence over the last couple of years.

Ultimately, it comes down to if Dillard is willing to and can move to right tackle, and if Mayock is willing to give up draft capital in the hopes that the offensive lineman can pick up a new playbook and position quickly. Both of those elements could make this trade non-starter.

Cam Robinson, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Cam Robinson
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Stats: 18 pressures allowed (4 QB hits, 14 hurries), 96.2 pass-blocking efficiency rating

2021 PFF Grades: 55.7 overall (ranks 66th among OTs), 41.8 run blocking (ranks 80th), 67.4 pass blocking (ranks 40th)

Why it makes sense

Trading for Cam Robinson is a lot of the same rationale as trading for Dillard. Robinson wouldn’t offer much support in the ground game, but he would be an upgrade in pass protection.

While Jaguars do want to protect their investment in Trevor Lawrence, their second-round pick, Walker Little, recently returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list and is currently waiting on his opportunity to get more playing time and develop. With Robinson on a contract year and a high draft pick currently playing a backup role, Jacksonville could easily make a play for the future by dealing their starting left tackle for draft picks and giving Little a promotion.

Striking a deal with Las Vegas would give the Raiders a temporary solution to bolster its offensive line, while the Jags can see what they have in their rookie and let him get some much-needed experience.

Plus, Robinson went to Alabama so he already meets one of Mayock’s criteria.

Why it wouldn’t work

Coincidentally, it wouldn’t work for a lot of the same reasons as Dillard. Robinson has exclusively played on the left side during his NFL career and isn’t good enough for Las Vegas to consider a reshuffle in the trenches.

Also, the five-year veteran wouldn’t provide much of a boost as a run blocker so this move would be solely for pass protection purposes, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be the same player after switching positions. If Jacksonville is only looking for a sixth- or seventh-round pick, then it might be worth a shot for Las Vegas, but anything more than that might be too risky and not worth the return on investment.

Nate Solder, OT, New York Giants

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nate Solder
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Stats: 22 pressures allowed (3 sacks, 6 QB hits, 13 pressures), 95.5 pass-blocking efficiency rating

2021 PFF Grades: 51.1 overall (ranks 75th among OTs), 57.1 run blocking (ranks 60th), 44.4 pass blocking (ranks 76th)

Why it makes sense

While his prime is certainly behind him, Nate Solder has a history of being one of the better and most athletic tackles in the league. He’s played at a high level at both right and left tackle, especially in pass protection where he only had one sub-70 grade from 2012 to 2018.

Solder’s experience playing on the right side would be key here and probably the biggest reason to make a move for him over Dillard and Robinson. Also, the 10-year pro has experience on his side which is something the Raiders’ young offensive line currently lacks.

With the Giants holding a 2-5 record, their sights should be set on the future and Solder turns 34 in March and is on the last year of his deal. So, New York would be wise to get whatever they can for him, even if that is just a late-round pick.

Why it wouldn’t work

Yes, Solder does have an impressive resume, but he didn’t play last season because of COVID and has been pretty bad this year, as seen by the numbers above, so it’s been a while since he’s been good. Making this trade would be banking on the ole “change of scenery” argument, meaning that he might be able to figure it out in Las Vegas and at least return to an average level of play.

Also, the Raiders and Giants do play the Sunday after the deadline, so New York might be hesitant to make a move with a team that’s going to be their opponent shortly thereafter. However, if that is the case, I would have some serious questions about what type of team the Giants’ front office thinks they have this season...

If Mayock and Tom Cable are at the point of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks to solve the team’s right tackle problem and want someone who has experience at the position, then Solder is probably their best option. But there is no guarantee that he’ll be much of an improvement over what they currently have.

Joe Haden, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Joe Haden
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Stats: 72.7% completion rate allowed, 198 receiving yards allowed, 1 TD allowed, 2 PBUs, 115.3 passer rating allowed

2021 PFF Grades: 60.0 overall (ranks 74th among CBs), 61.8 coverage (ranks 63rd), 49.3 run defense (ranks 107th)

Why it makes sense

Ever since Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette went on injured reserve, the Raiders have been struggling to find a second starting cornerback. They gave Amik Roberston a try for about two weeks, but he was benched against the Broncos and was inactive last week.

Brandon Facyson was signed shortly after Mullen and Arnette went down, and he’s filled in for Robertson and played well considering the situation, but Facyson is far from a proven commodity that a team looking to make a playoff run can rely on.

There’s been little to no updates on when Mullen will return, so adding a proven veteran like Joe Haden could boost the Raiders’ secondary for the time being. Haden would bring three Pro Bowls and 12 years of experience to another young position group for the Silver and Black, and it’s not like his play has taken that much of a dip in recent years.

The Steelers are in last place in the AFC North with a 3-3 record where their most recent wins came against a bad Broncos team and the Geno Smith-led Seahawks. While it might not be in the organization’s nature, the writing is on the wall and it’s time to start unloading aging players and thinking about the future. Haden’s contract expires at the end of the year and will be 33-years-old in April.

Why it wouldn’t work

The biggest factor here is Mullen’s health. He’s eligible to come off of IR soon, so if he can return the field soon then there’s no reason to trade for Haden. It’s just a matter of how serious his injury is and how long the team is willing to wait for him to come back.

As mentioned above, Facyson has played well in his limited action with the Silver and Black so a corner isn’t a pressing need at the moment. With that, it might make more sense to ride it out with Facyson rather than give up draft capital for another rental player.

Andrew Billings, DT, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Billings
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

2021 Stats: 1 tackle, 0 pressures, 0 sacks

2021 PFF Grades: 50.4 overall (rank among DTs: DNQ), 53.2 run defense, 51.8 pass rush

Why it makes sense

Stopping the run is by far the Raiders' biggest defensive issue, and they had a huge scare a couple of weeks ago when Johnathan Hankins was ruled out against Denver. Hankins is the team’s best defensive lineman at stopping the run, and the other defensive tackles on the roster have struggled in that regard.

Andrew Billings possesses a similar skillset to Hankins - stout against the run while sacrificing some pass rush prowess - so Billings could factor into Las Vegas’s defensive tackle rotation, taking some of the pressure off of Hankins. The current Brown likely wouldn’t supplant the current Raider as a starter, but he’d be a valuable depth addition to help solve one of the Silver and Black’s biggest issues at a relatively low cost.

As you probably could have guessed by his stat line above, Billings hasn’t played much this year. Cleveland has an abundance of talent on its defensive line and he’s been squeezed out by a few young rising stars. The soon-to-be 27-year old is on the last year of his deal, so if the Browns aren’t going to use him, they might as well get something for him.

Why it wouldn’t work

Defensive tackle is far from a pressing need for the Raiders and Gus Bradley places a much bigger emphasis on stopping the pass versus stopping the run. So, Billings might not fit what they do philosophically and Hankins could be enough of a run-stuffer for what they need if he stays healthy. Plus, even when he is playing full-time, Billings offers little to nothing as a pass rusher.

Unlike the other teams on this list, the Browns do have a chance to make the playoffs, and their Week 15 bout with the Raiders could have a lot of postseason implications on the line. With that, Cleveland would probably be hesitant to strike a deal with and help out another AFC contender, even if it does mean losing the defensive tackle for nothing in free agency.

Tim Settle, DT, Washington Football Team

Cincinnati Bengals v Washington Football Team
Tim Settle
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

2021 Stats: 5 total tackles, 2 TFLs, 5 pressures, 0 sacks

2021 PFF Grades: 72.5 overall (ranks among 23rd DTs), 59.9 run defense (ranks 54th), 79.0 pass rush (ranks 8th)

Why it makes sense

While Tim Settle doesn’t have a great track record of being a run-stopper in the NFL, he was a good one at Virginia Tech, and at 6’3” and 328 pounds, he could easily fill in behind Hankins. In other words, the potential is there and he might just be lacking an opportunity.

Unlike Billings, Settle can bring something to the table as a pass rusher, too. He had five sacks while only making one start last season and has been productive in a limited role this year, as his five pressures have come on just 52 opportunities.

The former Hokie’s lack of playing time speaks more to the depth and young talent of Washington’s defensive line than it does his for his ability as a player. He turns 25 next month and will be a free agent in the offseason, so since the Football Team has no use for him, it would be wise for them to flip Settle for some draft capital. Especially seeing as they’re in last place in the worst division in football.

Why it wouldn’t work

I’ve already hinted at this, Settle’s track record in the league doesn’t suggest that he’ll fix the Raiders’ run defense issue. Of course, there is a chance he could improve with a bigger role, but that would mean giving up assets for a guy who might end up being the same type of player as most of the other defensive tackles already on the roster.

While the four-year pro’s youthfulness is certainly intriguing for the team’s future, he’s likely to hit the free-agent market this offseason so the Raiders could still bring him in without having to give anything up in return. Plus, if he stays in Washington and continues to ride the bench, his price tag would be a lot lower than if he finishes 2021 in Las Vegas and plays well enough to earn an extension.