With the Las Vegas Raiders virtually out of the playoffs, the offseason is the focus of this week’s mailbag. And it should be a busy spring in Las Vegas seeing as they have several decisions to make and a new regime is going to be taking over.
Question: Aside from Maxx Crosby and Davante Adams, what do you think are the most desirable qualities the Raiders have to attract a coach, and do you think Davis’ efforts to make the franchise a place players want to be will end up paying off eventually in the W column?
Answer: The opportunity to work with Aidan O’Connell or hand-pick another quarterback would be attractive. Plus, having a guy like Kolton Miller to protect the young QB is a nice bonus. Michael Mayer would also be an intriguing guy to work with for an offensive-minded head coach.
Also, what you bring up about Mark Davis’ efforts to make the Raiders a desirable destination helps. For obvious reasons, Las Vegas is an attractive destination for guys in their 20s with some expendable income. The tax situation in Nevada benefits everyone, so that’s a nice little bonus in any contract negotiations, including with coaches.
As far as all of that impacting the win column, well, that’s a matter of getting the right people in place which Davis has struggled to do since taking control of the team.
The good news is he’s made some decent decisions as Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio ended the playoff drought, and then Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock appeared to be steering the team in the right direction. However, neither of those regimes could make the success stick, for various reasons.
So, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the franchise. Obviously, time will tell all, but I’m choosing to be optimistic right now. Granted, that can change depending on who Davis hires!
Q: In your opinion, will Mark Davis hire a GM that is actually a GM, or hire a coach that runs the show like the last two hires...I guess my question really is, can Mark Davis learn from past mistakes, or is the organization looking at another terrible 20+ years?
A: Understandably, I’ve gotten this question a lot over the last few weeks, but I do think Davis will learn from his mistakes. The fact he didn’t dig his heels in the ground with Josh McDaniels and was willing to pay McDaniels to go away signaled to me that Davis, like a smart Vegas resident, knows when to cut his losses and realize when the system isn’t working. That bought him some credibility with me, so I’m optimistic that he’ll go back to the system of not having the general manager and head coach tied at the hip.
Q: Heyo Matt, the next Raiders GM hire is bigger than the next coach or QB. Take a look at the horrible FA signings AND missed draft picks in the past decade-plus. So in your opinion, whom should we chatting about as the ideal GM?
A: To be completely transparent, I’m not someone who has a good grasp on front offices around the league—beyond general managers—to know who’s an up-and-coming GM or what have you. But what I can say is I’m a big fan of how Howie Roseman has approached roster building for the Eagles. I’d be very shocked if Roseman left Philadelphia for Las Vegas, so I don’t think that’s on the table, but plucking someone from that organization would get me excited.
Q: I’m with you on the defense needing players in the draft but however we go in the first-round (QB) on offense, the O-line needs a tune-up, in my opinion. So do you think it’ll be free agency or the draft that we can get someone?
A: I definitely agree that the offensive line needs a tune-up, especially since Andre James, Greg Van Roten and Jermaine Eluemunor are all impending free agents. With three spots to fill, it’s going to have to be a mix of both free agency and the draft, barring one or two of those guys re-signing to begin the offseason.
That being said, between needs on defense and having a young quarterback, I think it’d be smarter to add veterans on the offensive line and use the premium picks on the defense or a QB. That way the future of the franchise isn’t behind a bunch of unproven commodities and the defense gets some much-needed young talent.
Spending a mid-round pick on an offensive lineman would still make sense in this scenario since there will be so many holes to fill up front, but leaning more heavily on free agency in the trenches makes more sense to me.
Q: Should we trade Davante Adams for picks for the upcoming draft? Adams wants to finish out his career competing for a championship. If he thinks we’re a couple of years or more out why stay, that’s too long for him. A 1st a 2nd a 3rd and another player back could do it? Teams would want Adams for sure! Especially Rogers and the Jets!! We need some fixing but we’re heading in that direction because there is no other direction but UP!
A: If Adams wants to stay, the Raiders should keep him because having one of the best receivers in the league will only help a young quarterback transition to the NFL. But, I can see where you’re coming from if he wants out in the offseason and the new regime doesn’t want to keep a disgruntled 31-year-old around. In that case, picking up assets for the future would make more sense.
However, I think you’re overestimating Adams’ trade value. The Raiders gave up a first- and a second-round pick to get him, so getting more in return two years later isn’t realistic. They’d probably get one first-rounder for Adams and it’d be a pick in the 20s or 30s if he’s going to a contender. The Jets currently hold the sixth pick overall and I’d be shocked if they were willing to give that up for an older receiver straight up.
Q: If the Raiders end up with a draft pick say in the 9 to 12 range, do you think they should do whatever it takes to move up for either the 1st or 2nd pick to get Williams or Maye, or stay put and draft Jayden Daniels the LSU QB?
A: Part of it depends on how O’Connell finishes out the season because if he plays well, then staying put and seeing who falls in their laps would make more sense to me. Then it’s an open competition in training camp.
But if O’Connell struggles, I’d be in favor of going all-in on a trade-up. Drake Maye and Caleb Williams are in a tier of their own in this draft class and there’s a significant drop-off after them, to me. If you don’t have another quality option, the quarterback is too important of a position to just settle on. So I’d rather see the Raiders be aggressive and go get the guy they really like.
Malcolm Koonce: 83.8 PFF grade since week 9— PFF Las Vegas Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) December 7, 2023
8th among all edge defenders pic.twitter.com/Ut0gCXkBuG
A: For context, the tweet/post above was the basis for the question so that’s why I included it in the answer.
Malcolm Koonce has been pretty impressive as a pass-rusher lately but still needs work against the run to be a long-term starter. Part of the reason why his PFF grade since Week 9 is so high is he’s taken 83 snaps as a rusher compared to 19 against the run during that timeframe.
The Raiders are playing to his strengths right now which makes that grade a little deceiving and he’s not a complete player yet. Granted, I will say that Koonce has shown some improvement against the run, but the sample size is too small to definitively say he can be a full-time future starter.
A: Well, it helped that Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl, lol. But also, how he went about doing that stood out to me. Pederson did a great job developing and working with Carson Wentz—and we’ve seen how Wentz has fared without him. Pederson got even more credibility with me when he adapted and still went on to win it all with a backup quarterback. So, I liked that he had experience molding a young quarterback and showed the flexibility to adapt when adversity hits in a major way.
Frank Smith is my second choice behind Ben Johnson (Lions’ OC), right now. I don’t know what Smith is like as a leader, but it should help that he’s coached the Raiders before and has some familiarity with key guys like Crosby, Miller and Josh Jacobs. If they vouch for his leadership skills, I’d be on board with that hire.
A: A lot of inexperienced people in key spots are contributing to the recent offensive struggles. It’s not their fault per se, they were thrown into an adverse situation. But Bo Hardegree is a first-time offensive coordinator and is forced to figure out the job on the fly, which is why the Raiders have had suspect play-calling at times. Meanwhile, O’Connell is going through the typical young quarterback struggles without having a full offseason and training camp to get prepared for the starting job.
Don’t get me wrong, McDaniels needed to be fired, but these are the side effects of making big sweeping changes mid-season.
A: Do we have any estate lawyers in the comments section that can help us out?
I did find this article from the University of Buffalo’s Sports Law forum (hyperlinked for more information, if you’d like) that discussed the situation with the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks when Paul Allen passed away.
“The NFL requires all owners to have a succession plan on file with the league office and to keep it updated in the event an owner should pass away. ... As most people might suspect, owners of professional sports teams are typically not the “direct” owner. They maintain ownership through a very specific corporate structure with multiple layers of liability protection. This structuring helps to protect themselves personally, the teams, and their respective leagues. This means that the teams will function normally until a decision is made on when to place the team for sale.
“...With the Seahawks, the operating entity is Football Northwest, LLC and Allen is just 1 of 19 governors on the board. So, although Allen was the owner of the team, legal mechanisms are in place to ensure the Seahawks are not left without leadership and direction, from a business perspective. The remaining 18 governors on the board will be leading the organization and will likely be working with Allen’s estate to organize a sale of the franchise.”
To summarize the rest of the article, the team would be sold to someone else and the rest of the NFL’s owners would vote to approve that person as a new owner.
That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will publish on Thursdays throughout the season.