Free agency starts next week and the Las Vegas Raiders’ new brass will try working to improve the roster.
Of course, the Raiders went 10-7 and made the playoffs so there isn’t a ton of major rebuilding to do, but they do have needs.
Let’s look at the Raiders needs in order, in my opinion:
The Raiders have a ton of work to do at this spot. Their top four defensive tackles — Johnathan Hankins, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas and Darius Philon — are all free agents. This group did well in 2021, but it is unclear if the new regime will want these players back. It may want a couple, but I do expect there to be a lot of change at this position in Patrick Graham’s new defense. The Raiders will look for great fits in both free agency and early in the draft at this spot. The look of the new group compared to last year’s at defensive tackle will be fascinating.
The Raiders will likely look for help at right tackle and left guard. They will probably go away from Brandon Parker at right tackle whether second-year player Alex Leatherwood stays at guard or moves back to right tackle. I could see the new staff perhaps also looking for an upgrade over guard John Simpson. But, there will very likely be, at least, one new starter on the offensive line.
Just because this is the third need listed, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a great need. In fact, if you want to argue that this is the Raiders’ biggest need this offseason, I would buy it. Considering that new head coach Josh McDaniels a is passing-game specialist, he will want to upgrade here. Yes, the Raiders will use double-tight end sets, slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and they will run the ball, but they also need to upgrade from Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards as the starters. They also need a speed element. Perhaps Edwards will get another chance to start and maybe he will flourish under McDaniels, but the Raiders need an impact starting receiver.
We all know the Raiders have invested greatly at this position in the draft in recent years and they’ve struck out in big situations, so they still have a need. Yet, they will have a healthy Trayvon Mullen back (it’s his contract year) and they have stud second-year nickel cornerback Nate Hobbs. Still, Casey Hayward and Brandon Facyson, who both ended the year as starters, are free agents. The Raiders still need veteran and young help here. So, this will, once again, be an area of addition for the franchise.
Rookie Divine Deablo played well when he got a chance to play in the second half of the season and veteran Denzel Perryman had a Pro Bowl year. But again, expect Graham to put his own stamp on this group. Divine will get a chance to show what he do can do and perhaps Perryman will stay as well. But, in some form, there will be new linebacker additions in Las Vegas.
Again, don’t expect wholesale changes, but the Raiders have some work to do with the offseason addition period looming.