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Raiders: Week 2 free agency, top 10 targets still available

Quality options still available

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Carolina Panthers v Buffalo Bills
Stephon Gilmore
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

After what was a wild and exciting end to the first week of free agency for the Las Vegas Raiders, I think it’s safe to say they won’t be looking for a “No. 1 wide receiver” in free agency anymore.

But the Raiders still do have a handful of needs, most notably at offensive line, defensive tackle and in the defensive backfield. They’re also sitting at about $16.9 million in effective cap space per, so Las Vegas also still has some money to spend and there are plenty of quality players still available on the open market.

In fact, there are several holdovers from our Top-10 list at the beginning of last week.

1. Stephon Gilmore, CB

PFF Projected contract: 2 years, $12.5 million/year

Age: 31.4

Gilmore was my top player for the Raiders last week and he’s still available. His inactivity isn’t for a lack of suitors, several teams are rumored to be “interested” in him, and Las Vegas is reportedly making a strong push to bring him in. But the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year is staying patient and is talented enough that teams will wait.

From last week’s article:

The Raiders are reportedly in the mix for Gilmore which makes a ton of sense in more ways than one. They desperately need a starting cornerback and the 2019 defensive player of the year is one of the league’s best when healthy. Then there’s the Patriots connection as well.

However, the veteran defensive back will turn 32-years-old in September and is coming off a major injury, a partially torn quad that he suffered at the end of the 2020 season and caused him to miss the first half of 2021. Also, he’s much better in man coverage than zone, and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has typically leaned toward the latter in the past.

Granted, Gilmore returned to the field last year and Graham is known for being versatile, so maybe that’s not much of a deterrent, but it is something to consider with a high price tag.

2. Tyrann Mathieu, S

PFF Projected contract: 3 years, $16.25 million/year

Age: 29.8

Mathieu is another enigma who hasn’t signed a new deal. There have been little to no reports that the Raiders are making a move for the former Chief, but his versatility would be a great fit in Patrick Graham’s scheme. He is coming up on 30-years-old and maybe that has something to do with why he’s still available, but age hasn’t seemed to impact Dave Ziegler’s decision-making so far.

From last week’s article:

Graham loves versatile safeties and Mathieu has been the ultimate swiss army knife since he entered the league. He’d also bring some veteran leadership to Las Vegas’ young secondary and inside knowledge on the team’s biggest rival, the Chiefs. But, is all that worth a premium price when the roster has several other holes?

3. Calais Campbell, DT

PFF Projected contract: 1 year, $8 million

Age: 35.5

This would really test my “age is just a number” theory with Ziegler. Campbell is undoubtedly “old” for NFL standards, but he would walk in the building as Las Vegas’ best defensive tackle. He’s also been widely regarded for his leadership skills and is a Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner, so the old man would be a good guy to have in the locker room.

From last week’s article:

Just from a pure volume standpoint, defensive tackle is the Raiders’ biggest need this offseason. They barely have any and certainly none with a resume quite like Campbell’s. While he’s old and won’t be part of the team’s future plans, make no mistake about it, he can still play. The 14-year vet had 31 pressures and an overall PFF grade of 80.8 on 615 snaps last season.

4. Akiem Hicks, DT

PFF Projected contract: 2 years, $8.5 million/year

Age: 32.3

You could almost copy and paste everything that was said about Campbell and apply it to Hicks. Old, but a good player and someone who could be a leader on a young defense. However, his age and injury history do call for a “proceed with caution” type of situation.

From last week’s article:

Another older defensive tackle but, again, much better than what Las Vegas currently has on the roster at the position. At his best, Hicks is a Pro Bowl quality defensive lineman who can plug up gaps against the run and put pressure on the quarterback as a pass rusher. However, he’s battled injuries over the past few years and hasn’t played a full season since 2018. Not a great sign for someone over the magic age of 30 in the NFL.

5. Daryl Williams, OL

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills
Daryl Williams
Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

PFF Projected contract: N/a

Age: 29.5

Our first new face on the list!

Williams is intriguing for the Raiders because he can fill a need and has some position versatility. Last year, he took 720 snaps at right guard and 571 at right tackle, and he recorded 1,237 on the edge in 2020. So, Las Vegas could give Alex Leatherwood another shot at right tackle and have a backup plan already in place with a veteran offensive lineman. Or, they could just keep the second-year player at right guard and have a solid option at right tackle.

The downside to Williams is he’s an expendable player. That’s why the Bills cut him at the start of free agency, as he recorded just a 60.3 PFF run-blocking grade last season and has allowed 11 sacks and 61 pressures over the last two years.

6. Bobby Wagner, LB

PFF Projected contract: 1 year, $8 million

Age: 31.7

Linebacker isn’t a pressing need for the Silver and Black, per se, but future first-ballot Hall of Famers don’t hit the market every offseason. Plus, Wagner would be an upgrade over what they currently have on the roster and that’s no slight on Denzel Perryman and Divine Deablo.

The 10-year veteran is coming off a down year where he uncharacteristically missed 14 tackles, his most since 2015 (15) and only the second time in his career that he’s reached double-digits. Also, his streak of five straight first-team All-Pro selections ended last year with second-team honors...

Wagner does turn 32-years-old in June, so he might be on the decline, but his decline is a lot of players’ peak.

7. Kareem Jackson, S

PFF Projected contract: 1 year, $3.5 million

Age: 33.9

As mentioned above, Graham loves his safeties, and other than Tre’von Moehrig, the Raiders don’t have another player who can lineup deep in two-high coverages. Jackson would bring that to the defense and is only a year removed from earning an 81.3 PFF coverage grade, and he floated around the 80.0 mark the two seasons before that — 79.8 in 2019 and 80.5 in 2018.

However, the former Bronco turns 34-years-old next month and is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. His coverage grade dropped to 48.5, he allowed three touchdowns to just two combined interceptions and PBUs, and he missed an alarming 18 tackles. So, the risk of bringing in a player who is steadily on the decline is certainly there with Jackson.

8. Riley Reiff, OT

PFF Projected contract: 2 years, $7 million/year

Age: 33.3

Reiff has primarily been a left tackle throughout his career, but he does have two years of experience playing on the right side, one of which came last season. The results were solid, a 70.0 run-blocking grade and 21 pressures allowed, four being sacks. So the veteran lineman could play a similar role in Las Vegas as he did in Cincinnati, a holdover right tackle. Also, he was apparently a big Raider fan growing up, for what that’s worth.

The problem is Reiff is old and coming off an ankle injury that caused him to miss the end of the regular season and the Bengals’ Super Bowl run. As is the common theme with a lot of the aging free agents on this list, that’s a bad combination.

9. Germain Ifedi, OT

PFF Projected contract: 2 years, $6.5 million/year

Age: 27.8

To me, Ifedi is in a very similar situation as Williams. The former Bear has experience playing both right guard and tackle and has been a solid performer at both spots. In 2020, his most recent full season, he took 663 snaps on the inside and 403 on the outside, earning a 62.8 PFF run-blocking grade and allowing 25 pressures in pass protection. Plus, the soon-to-be 28-year-old is one of the younger options on this list.

Ifedi also suffered a knee injury that cost him several games last season and was benched for Weeks 17 and 18. The latter might have more to do with Chicago opting to develop or see what they have in younger, non-contract-year players, but it’s not a great sign that another team views him as expendable. That’s kind of been the theme of the Texas A&M product’s professional career, he’s always been a solid player but never a good one.

10. Alexander Johnson, LB

PFF Projected contract: 2 years, $7 million/year

Age: 30.2

Again, linebacker isn’t a pressing need for Las Vegas right now, but Johnson is a good backer when healthy. Before tearing a pec in Week 6 and ending the season on injured reserve, he was PFF’s highest-graded linebacker against the run with an elite 90.3 grade. In 2020, he finished second at the position with 40 run stops and added 18 in coverage — tied for the 12th-most — to total 58 defensive stops and finish tied for third among linebackers.

Part of the problem with the former Bronco is mentioned above, he’s another guy that’s coming off a serious injury and doesn’t have youth on his side. Also, this would be more of a luxury signing as the Raiders do have a good run-stuffer on the second level in Perryman.