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Silver Minings: 5 Raiders make PFF’s Top 200 free agents

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NFL: Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders
Casey Hayward
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders are set to hit free agency with about $20.5 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.com. While the Raiders will be able to trim some fat to increase that number, they only have about $16.5 million in effective cap space — the maximum number when a team signs at least 51 players — and contract extension conversations with Derek Carr are in the $35 to $40 million range. Not to mention Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow are in line for some big paydays soon.

Taking all that into consideration, Las Vegas is going to have a hard time bringing back some of its top free agents when the market officially opens next month.

Pro Football Focus recently released their Top 200 Free Agents for this offseason, so let’s use this as a tool to see who’s days as a Raider might be numbered.

Who you would prioritize bringing back?

25) Casey Hayward CB

Contract Projection: One year, $6.5 million fully guaranteed

Bottom Line: Hayward has shown that he still has something left in the tank this season for Las Vegas, grading out as one of the best cornerbacks in football. The cliff is nearing as Hayward pushes into his 30s, but he should still be able to provide quality starting play for a zone-heavy defense in 2022.

60) Marcus Mariota QB

Contract Projection: One year, $8 million fully guaranteed

Bottom Line: Mariota is a former No. 2 overall draft pick, and the NFL struggles to give up on that kind of prior evaluation for a player. He flashed talent in limited snaps with the Raiders, and it might just be enough to convince a team without a quarterback in 2022 to roll the dice on him one last time. At the very least, he should be a coveted backup option.

122) Zay Jones WR

Contract Projection: Three years, $18 million ($6M per year), $9.25 million total guaranteed

Bottom Line: Jones produced the best stretch of play of his career with an increased workload down the stretch in 2021. There’s some risk if it was just a blip or an actual turning point, but he can catch the ball and move the chains effectively, making him a worthwhile risk as a No. 3 option.

166) KJ Wright LB

Contract Projection: One year, $2.5 million, $1.75 million total guaranteed

Bottom Line: Wright has been one of the best linebackers of his generation but is coming off a weak year and is 32 years old. He may be able to bounce back, but his role may now be limited to a two-down specialist.

182) DeSean Jackson WR

Contract Projection: One year, $3 million ($M per year), $1.75 million total guaranteed

Bottom Line: Jackson has been a consistent elite deep threat for his entire career. Even at his age, he is likely still a plus option for a team that needs to add speed to their offense. Given his age and recent history, it might take a while for them to pull the trigger, though.

In other Raiders links:

  • Raiders NFL Draft scouting reports: Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary and Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick.
  • Vegas new vision: Raiders coaching hires should open a lot of eyes, pens our Ray Aspuria.
  • ESPN ranks Raiders 15th heading into 2022: “Raiders owner Mark Davis referred to bringing in a new regime/tag team of GM Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels as “taking this to the next level,” via Paul Gutierrez.
  • Raiders mock draft tracker: Each week leading up to the draft in Las Vegas, Raiders.com will compile the latest mock drafts from top analysts and take a look at who they’re predicting the Silver and Black will select with the No. 22 overall pick.