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Raiders’ free agency: Cost-effective options

Las Vegas may be better suited to get more bang for buck than spending substantial coin

NFL: Washington Commanders at New York Giants
Safety Julian Love has experience in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme and could be a low key solid free agent option for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders having slightly more than $37.932 million in cap space does give the team some solid operating room free agency kicks off this Monday. However, with a total of 49 contracted players on the roster now, along with 21 in-house unrestricted free agents, said cap room can evaporate quickly.

The Silver & Black could always create more cap space — similar to what the rest of the league is doing by converting salaries into signing bonuses, for example to create more room — but, getting more return on their investments (bang for their buck), is likely the best course for the Raiders. This isn’t to say the team shouldn’t chase big fish. It’s merely to present if Las Vegas isn’t big players in the mad dash that’s the start of free agency, don’t be surprised.

Last offseason, the Raiders’ first under new power duo general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels, the team took a more short-term deal approach. There were one- to two-year deals inked in free agency to augment the roster. That should be the approach again. Especially considering Ziegler is of the mindset the core of the team be built and sustained via the NFL Draft — not free agency.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Bringing back Jermaine Eluemunor to compete for the right tackle spot may be in the Las Vegas Raiders’ best interest.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at some cost-effective options for the Raiders in free agency. These players aren’t likely to ink deals in the initial wave and could be had on potential one-year or similar short-term deals:

Julian Love, safety: The sure-tackling 5-foot-11, 195-pound Love is familiar with Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme with the New York Giants and can fill the more physical safety role in the defensive backfield. Love, a 2019 fourth-round pick, was a 16-game starter for the G-Men last season and is improving as a cover man. With other high-profile safeties on the market too, Love, soon to be 25 years old, is a potential deal.

Jermaine Eluemunor, tackle: Las Vegas doesn’t have to look far for a potential starting right tackle. As an in-house free agent, the 28-year-old is familiar with the scheme and philosophy and can jump right back in. He did a good job last season and can do so again this year. And, more importantly, he isn’t going to break the Raiders’ wallet with another deal — short-term even.

Dalton Risner, guard: An absolute mauler in the run game, the 6-foot-5, 312-pounder would fill a need the Raiders have at the guard position. Risner is a much better run blocker than pass protector and has a mean streak. He’s a physical interior lineman that can be a road grader blocker but can also set the anchor protecting the quarterback. He’ll be 28 this summer but has plenty to offer.

Jacoby Brissett, quarterback: The 30-year-old quarterback would be the most cost-effective philosophical fit on the open market. A steady had at quarterback who is accurate, poised, and can make plays with his legs, he’d fit the bridge-starter type role perfectly for the Raiders. Brissett can effectively start while a rookie quarterback absorbs and learns from the sideline. In Las Vegas, Brissett would have weaponry around him he hasn’t had in his previous stops.

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
Germaine Pratt is a rising cover linebacker who already has the physical nature against the run. He’d be a defender that can fit with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Germaine Pratt, linebacker: Cover linebackers that can disrupt passes or take the ball away are hard to find. And Pratt is an ascending player in that regard. The soon-to-be 27 year old is equal parts cover man and thumper against the run. The linebacker market is flooded with talent and the Raiders could net this talented defender on a value contract in comparison to higher profiled free agents.

Byron Murphy Jr., cornerback: Now here’s a potential bargain flyer signing. The 25-year-old hit injured reserve with a back injury so his market is likely to not be robust. But when he’s healthy and available, he’s a capable cover corner who can take the ball away. A one-year deal to rehabilitate his career is very likely.

Larry Ogunjobi, defensive tackle: Another one-year deal type, Ogunjobi needs to restablish himself as an interior pass rusher — something he did from 2018 to 2021. But he had a down year with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Raiders need a pass-rushing tackle on the inside.