With the third most amount cap space to work with and a laundry list of needs, the Las Vegas Raiders are set up well for free agency in three weeks. With an estimated $46-plus million in flexibility, the Silver & Black could be players in the offseason spending spree.
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler is keen to say he wants to build a sustainable winner and his formula is largely based on scouting, drafting, and developing talent from the collegiate draft pool. However, with a defense riddled with holes, Ziegler may have no recourse but to spend coin in free agency. That officially begins March 15, the start of the 2023 league year where signings become official. Teams and players can engage in contact and contract negotiations on March 13, though.
So let’s take a look at the enticing targets in free agency for a needy Raiders squad:
- Javon Hargrave: Another disruptor in the middle, the grizzled veteran dropped quarterbacks 11 times for sacks this past season for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only that, but he’s quick off the snap that he alters the opposition’s run game too. The 30-year-old Hargrave is a dynamic presence in the middle of the defensive line.
- Dre’Mont Jones: A third-round gem in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos can’t afford to let this versatile defensive lineman hit the market. But if he does, the Raiders have all the tape they need to know Jones can be plugged in the interior and edge to get the quarterback with 6.5 sacks in 2022 and 22 total in four seasons.
- Jessie Bates III: The top safety if he hits the market, Bates’ five-season tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals is likely coming to an end. A smart and instinctive playmaker who has 14-career interceptions under his belt, the 26-year-old Bates is an adept and willing tackler, too. Something the Raiders need on the backend of a leaky secondary.
- James Bradberry: The defensive holding in the Super Bowl aside, Bradberry provided solid cover skills for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. He’s scheme familiar with Patrick Graham’s concepts and can slot in as the No. 1 corner in Las Vegas. He’s 30 but Bradberry has 18-career interceptions on his resume.
- Bryon Murphy, Jr.: An emerging ballhawk who can play both man and zone, the 25-year-old Murphy saw his 2022 season derailed by a back injury. But he’s always looking to make a play on the ball and was Arizona Cardinals defender who scooped up Hunter Renfrow’s fumble for the game-winner against Las Vegas last season.
- David Long Jr.: Profiling similar to in-house free agent Denzel Perryman, the 26-year-old Long is a force against the run, stout tackler, and sneaky in coverage. So he’s a younger version of the Raiders’ heat-seeking missile. But just like Perryman, Long hasn’t been able to play an entire season for the Tennessee Titans. But, Long’s production merits looks.
- Cole Holcomb: This 26-year-old has speed in spades and a non-stop motor to boot at the middle linebacker position. He combines the athleticism with intelligence and can be a plug-and-play type for the Raiders. A foot injury did wipe out a lot of his 2022 season for the Washington Commanders, though.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: Price tag and his medical report (lengthy as it is) is key for this 31-year-old signal caller. Whenever he does play, he emerges victorious during his stint with the San Francisco 49ers. And Garoppolo’s history with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels can’t be ignored. But, is paying north of $30 million, too much?
- Jacoby Brissett: A steady hand who has the wit and athleticism to move the chains with his legs, the 30-year-old Brissett is also another QB familiar with McDaniels’ concepts. He’s not a wallet-buster, either, playing on a cheap one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in 2022. And can compete for the starting gig in Las Vegas.
- Kaleb McGary: Like in-house free agent Josh Jacobs, McGary didn’t see a fifth-year option exercised on him. And like the Raiders tailback, McGary had a stellar season for the Atlanta Falcons. The top right tackle on the market is a mauler in the run game and a decent pass blocker, something Las Vegas needs at the RT spot.
- Isaiah Wynn: The New England Patriots-Las Vegas Raiders pipeline flows another player to the desert. The 27-year-old did have a down 2022 season but did play right tackle (after playing left). He’s young and can anchor the island. A competition with him and Raiders’ in-house FA Jermaine Eluemunor may do all parties good.
- Mecole Hardman: Las Vegas is lacking an outside speed option, thus Hardman. Likely to get re-upped by the Kansas City Chiefs, if the 25-year-old hits the open market, the Raiders should give him a look-see. A dynamic playmaker with speed is lacking in the desert.
- Parris Campbell: Finally able to play a full season, the 26-year-old was a deep speed, deep bomb threat for the Indianapolis Colts. He’d fill the clear-out/vertical threat for the Raiders nicely.