We’re about two days into the NFL’s legal tampering period for free agency and while the rest of the league has been wheeling and dealing, the Las Vegas Raiders have remained silent. Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler might be staying patient, but the fanbase is growing antsy and wants the team to make a move and a big one at that.
Now, the Raiders haven’t been complete lame ducks over the past couple of days. They have been tied to a few notable free agents like Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson and Allen Robinson among others, and they signed cornerback/kick returner Darius Phillips. However, that’s not nearly enough to keep the fanbase happy and rightfully so.
Las Vegas is coming off a postseason berth and will return several key starters, but they also have some massive holes to fill this offseason. Specifically, they need help at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle and cornerback. But so far, they’ve struck out at basically every position of need.
As mentioned above, the Raiders were linked to Jackson, but he opted to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year, $85 million deal. Understandably, they missed out on wide receiver Christian Kirk, who signed a jaw-dropping four-year $72 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but D.J. Chark was reportedly on their radar and agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the Detriot Lions. To top it all off, Tuesday night ended with Morgan Moses, arguably the top right tackle on the market, agreeing to a modest three-year $15 million offer from the Baltimore Ravens.
Making matters worse, other teams in the division have seemingly gotten better over the last few weeks. The Chargers added Jackson and traded for edge defender Khalil Mack, and the Denver Broncos got a new quarterback in Russell Wilson and snatched pass rusher Randy Gregory off the open market.
So what gives? Why aren’t the Raiders making any moves?
Is it a lack of cap space and/or funding? No, they made a handful of moves to create space heading into the week and currently have about $24 million in effective cap space, per OverTheCap.com.
Are there just not enough viable options at a reasonable price point? I guess this is somewhat subjective as a player’s perceived value can vary from team to team and even personnel executive to personnel executive. However, Las Vegas could have easily afforded at least one of the contracts listed above, and aside from Kirk, all have almost universally been considered “good” or “fair deals”.
So, if it’s not a lack of money or a shortage of fish in the sea, what is the reason for the inactivity? Could it be that McDaniels and Ziegler have their eyes set on one large lunker, possibly one that they’ve worked with in the past?
If so, it’d be hard to blame them as Gilmore is just two years removed from being named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Also, his 26 career interceptions would be a welcomed sight for the fanbase seeing as the Raiders as a whole have only managed to accumulate 16 picks in the last two seasons combined.
With several key players like Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow and Yannick Ngakoue among others set to enter contract years, and Maxx Crosby’s new deal kicking in next year, it’d make send for the front office to target one big name in free agency this offseason. They have to play the long game and think about the future, so they aren’t able to make an aggressive push toward every notable free agent, even if they do play a position of need.
However, putting all the eggs in the Gilmore basket is certainly a risky strategy. What if he ends up signing somewhere else? Or attacks more suitors and drives his pricetag up? Either one of those scenarios could lead to McDaniels and Ziegler walking away from free agency empty-handed. That’s not exactly a great look or an ideal situation for their first offseason working together as the men in charge.
Then again, if the two-time first-team All-Pro moves to the desert, the Raiders get the starting corner they’ve been looking for and the head coach and general manager look like geniuses.
That’s the risk-reward of the all-or-nothing scenario.
Maybe McDaniels and Ziegler have even bigger plans and they’ll surprise us all on Wednesday morning or afternoon when free agency technically/officially begins. Regardless, until they start making moves, all let’s left for Raider Nation to do is speculate as to why they keep sitting on their hands.