Dating back to January, the Las Vegas Raiders had one of the most eventful offseasons of recent memory, especially for a team that made the playoffs a year ago. With a new general manager, head coach and several new players on the roster, the Raiders have been hard to keep track of over the past several months.
But we’ve got you covered with a recap of everything you need to know before the Silver and Black embark on the journey to return to the postseason, which our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook are currently offering as a +160 bet.
Jon Gruden’s mid-season resignation also led to some skepticism about the status of his hand-picked general manager, Mike Mayock. While there were plenty of questions about how much say Mayock had during the draft, the Raiders had several first-round busts during his tenure, but they also found a few Day 3 gems like Hunter Renfrow and Maxx Crosby.
However, the former NFL Network analyst also brought in a handful of free agents who underperformed, and ultimately he was let go shortly after the end of the season.
That paved the way for Dave Ziegler to step in and take on his first opportunity to lead an NFL front office.
Ziegler broke into the league as a player personnel assistant with the Denver Broncos back in 2010, leveraging his relationship with a former college teammate, Josh McDaniels — more on that later. The former stuck around in Denver for three seasons, elevating his status to the pro scout level before the latter brought him to the New England Patriots in 2013, where he eventually became the director of player personnel before leaving for Las Vegas.
While Ziegler did keep a couple of notable scouts and talent evaluators around from the previous regime, like Dwayne Joseph and DuJuan Daniels, he also brought in several new faces, most notably assistant general manager Champ Kelly.
Kelly and Ziegler had previously worked together with the Broncos, and Kelly has garnered so much respect in the NFL that he’s been interviewed for an open general manager spot in each of the last three seasons.
Long story short, the Raiders’ front office was almost completely remolded during the offseason.
As referenced above, Vegas’ head coach has been a hot topic of conversation over the last 10 months. Between Gruden’s email scandal, debates on whether or not to remove “interim” from Rich Bisaccia’s title, and the possibility of Jim Harbaugh taking the job, there was plenty of chatter on the subject.
Ultimately, Bisaccia was let go despite making the playoffs and earning Coach of the Year votes, and McDaniels was hired.
This won’t be McDaniels’ first stint as the man in charge in the AFC West, though. From 2009 to 2010, he served as the Broncos’ head coach and won the division in Year 1, however, he was fired 12 games into the following season and exited Denver with an 11-17 record.
After a short stint as the then-St. Louis Rams’ offense coordinator, McDaniels returned to his roots as the Patriots’ OC and quarterbacks coach for 10 seasons. While working with Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Mac Jones, the coach created several different offensive schemes and found success for the better part of the last decade. His offenses ranked first in scoring once to go along with seven top-five finishes and only had one year outside of the top 10 during his return to New England.
Much like the front office, the rest of the Raiders coaching staff will look a lot different as well. Wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett and assistant offensive line coach Cameron Clemmons are the only holdovers from the year before as the rest of the staff is as follows.
- Coordinator: Mick Lombardi
- Quarterbacks: Bo Hardegree
- Running backs: Kennedy Polamalu
- Offensive line: Carmen Bricillo
- Senior Assistant: Jerry Schuplinski
- Quality Control: Mitch Singler
- Assistant: Fred Walker
- Coordinator: Patrick Graham
- Defensive line: Frank Okam
- Linebackers: Antonio Pierce
- Defensive backs: Chris Ash
- Defensive backs/pass game coordinator: Jason Simmons
- Senior Assistant: Rob Ryan
- Quality Control: Matt Feeney
- Assistant/Pass rush specialist: Matt Edwards
- Coordinator: Tom McMahon
- Assistant: Maurice Drayton
Notable additions and departures
The Raiders started the offseason off with a bang by making a few blockbuster moves.
First, they sent defensive end and the team’s 2021 sack leader (10) Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts in a player-for-player swap with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. Shortly thereafter, they replaced Ngakoue with Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL in sacks (107.5) since 2012, by signing Jones to a massive three-year, $51 million contract. Ya-Sin and Jones are now expected to be immediate impact starters for the Silver and Black this season.
Then there was the trade that basically reset the entire wide receiver market in the NFL.
Vegas sent their first and second-round draft picks to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for wideout Davante Adams. In addition to the trade, the Raiders handed out another big-money contract, inking the former Packer to a five-year $140 million deal.
That made Adams the highest-paid receiver on a per-year basis at the time, and also made Tyreek Hill become too rich for the Kansas City Chiefs’ blood, as Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins. He subsequently received a new contract worth $30 million per year, supplanting Adams at the top of the money list.
Outside of cornerback Casey Hayward departing for the Atlanta Falcons, the rest of free agency was pretty quiet for the Silver and Black.
Linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton and defensive end Carl Nassib were all released after under-performing relative to their contracts. Defensive tackle Solomon Thomas signed with the New York Jets, and fellow DT Quinton Jefferson headed back to the Seattle Seahawks.
Wide receiver Bryan Edwards, along with a conditional 2023 seventh-round pick, were traded to the Falcons in exchange for a 2023 fifth-rounder, and the only other notable trade was sending a sixth-round pick to the Patriots for backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and a seventh-rounder. Finally, the team signed wide receiver Keelan Cole late in the offseason.
So, the new front office made a few splash moves to kick off the offseason and managed to replace two of their biggest losses from the year before.
The Raiders did decline the fifth-year options on defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram, making them all free agents at the end of the year and leading to speculation about their future with the team, especially Jacobs. It is worth noting that McDaniels and Ziegler have shot down any trade rumors surrounding the back this offseason, though.
After giving up their two top picks in the Adams trade, the 2022 NFL Draft was fairly uneventful for the host team. They didn’t make a selection until pick No. 90 and did most of their work on Day 3.
In a bit of an interesting strategy, Las Vegas only addressed three position groups with their six picks — offensive line, running back and defensive tackle — as the draft class went as follows:
- 3rd Round, Pick 90: Dylan Parham, OG/C, Memphis
- 4th Round, Pick 122: Zamir White, RB, Georgia
- 4th Round, Pick 126: Neil Farrell Jr. DT, LSU
- 5th Round, Pick 175: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee
- 7th Round, Pick 227: Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State
- 7th Round, Pick 250: Brittain Brown, RB, UCLA
As for the undrafted free agents, the Raiders’ crop was headlined by Utah offensive tackle Bamidele Olaseni, Cal quarterback Chase Garbers and Arizona State linebacker Darien Butler, rounding out the 2022 rookie class.