It’s true: The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t get any draft pick compensation via trade and instead released quarterback Derek Carr. The pivotal franchise shift occurred on Tuesday afternoon after a trade never materialized for the signal caller.
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Yet, while the Silver & Black didn’t gain any additional draft selections, what the team did gain was a sizeable chunk of cap room by dismissing its former franchise quarterback. Namely, $29.25 million in salary space. Releasing Carr does end up being a $5.625 million dead money hit for the Raiders, but that hits the ledger next offseason.
Thus, according to Over The Cap, Las Vegas is flush with cap space at $43.389-plus million — third most behind the Chicago Bears ($94.434-plus million) and the Atlanta Falcons ($56.575-plus million).
That’s a ton of overhead for the Raiders, a team that’s slated to re-tool and reconfigure with only 47 players under contract for the 2023 season. Interestingly enough, the Silver & Black carry a staggering league-leading $29.402-plus million in dead money — a byproduct of previous regime’s roster misfires.
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler, head coach Josh McDaniels, and by extension owner Mark Davis have plenty of work ahead of them to build a roster that can compete against Super Bowl champion and AFC West dominator, the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023. Ziegler has final roster say and is the architect, McDaniels and his coaching staff must develop all players acquired, and Davis is the one signing all the checks.
That all said, let’s look at the key in-house decisions the Raiders face this offseason and how the additional operating room money-wise helps:
- Running back Josh Jacobs: The biggest decision and highest salary cap ramifications. Jacobs lead the league in rushing this past season and can become the face of the Raiders offense — if brought back. Based on the market, Jacobs is likely slated to earn a deal that pays him $12 million or more annually. Was his tremendous 2022 campaign an aberration or sign of things to come? Las Vegas has the cap room to strike a rich deal if it were so inclined Worst case would be applying the franchise tag (slightly north of $10 million for that one season).
- Middle linebacker Denzel Perryman: Injuries derailed a lot of the heat-seeking missile of a defender’s 2022 season, but when he’s on the field, his impact is undeniable. A trusty tackler who is always willing to mix it up, Perryman showed he can be a thief when asked to cover in zone. Las Vegas defense is talent deficient and bringing back Perryman — on even a short-term deal — helps shore up the middle of the unit.
- Wide receiver Mack Hollins: An elite special teams ace as a gunner covering punts, the tall pass catcher showed he can be effective on offense, too. Meaning he won’t be coming back cheap — by all accounts. The Raiders could let the market dictate Hollins’ price, but special teams standouts don’t come along often, especially the kind that can sprint and down punts deep inside the opposition’s territory.
- Quarterback Jarrett Stidham: Here’s a player that can slide down the priority list depending on what else the Raiders do at this position. Stidham does merit another look-see based on his limited action and his knowledge of McDaniels’ offense, however. Even as a bridge-type quarterback, Stidham can hold down the fort and allow Las Vegas to potentially develop a 2023 draft pick.
- Fullback Jakob Johnson: Regardless if the Raiders bring back Jacobs or not, re-upping the bull dozing lead blocker is a benefit to the offense. Like Stidham and others, Johnson is well-versed in the scheme and also plays special teams. And like Stidham, the Raiders don’t have to break the bank to bring Johnson back.
- Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin: Acquired in a rare player-for-player swap, Ya-Sin proved to be sticky in coverge and a willing tackler. Las Vegas is going to rebuild the defense and Ya-Sin is expected to draw attention in free agency. Perhaps watching the market develop will dictate if Las Vegas makes an overture for the veteran corner.
- Safety Duron Harmon: A productive veteran presence at deep safety is a good thing and Harmon continues to provide that despite being north of 30 years old. He’s a cost-effective player that can mentor both in the film room and on the field.
- Defensive tackle Andrew Billings: He came to the Raiders cheap last offseason and can likely be had on another cost-effective deal. The space eating run stuffer was sorely missed when he wasn’t available.
- Offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor: Able to play on an island at tackle or inside at guard, Eluemunor is also versed in the ways of McDaniels. He isn’t going to be expensive to bring back and competition always brings out the best in players.