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Raiders free agency 2023: Snaps will be there for Cam Sims

The tall wide receiver can become a special teams mainstay and productive pass catcher

NFL: Washington Commanders at Kansas City Chiefs
Cam Sims (89) can carve out a similar role that Mack Hollins had with the Las Vegas Raiders. Sims is a tall wide receiver who can become a special teams standout that can also contribute on offense.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Losing Mack Hollins in free agency hurt the Las Vegas Raiders on two fronts: Special teams and offense.

The 6-foot-4, 221-pound wide receiver was an excellent gunner on punt duties downing the ball deep in enemy territory and provided a mismatch perimeter/deep as a pass catcher (career-high 57 catches for 690 yards and four touchdowns). Hollins found a new home with the Atlanta Falcons on a one-year deal as he hit unrestricted free agency, leaving a considerable hole in Las Vegas.

Not surprisingly, the Silver & Black found a probable replacement in Cam Sims, formerly of the Washington Commanders. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Sims profiles very closely to Hollins before the latter joined the Raiders last offseason. Sims, 27 years old, was more special teamer than wide receiver on offense in Washington as he earned 244 snaps on special teams (54 percent of the team’s total snaps) and 328 on offense (just 28 percent of the total). Sims played in all 17 of Washington’s games with three starts but had a meager eight-catch, 89-yard output on offense.

Hollins, who was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021 before coming to Las Vegas, had similar snap counts with 60 percent on special teams and 30 percent on offense. The necessity for Hollins, 29 years old, to become a more involved part of the offense arrived due to injuries for the Raiders this past season. His offensive snaps skyrocketed to 94 percent which parlayed into career-highs receiving.

In Las Vegas, Sims gets an opportunity to carve out a role that Hollins did. The former is every bit as big and physical for the departed Raider and has the skillset to both a special teamer and receiver. Sims also has the added luxury of playing in a Scott Turner’s passing scheme in Washington. Turner is now the Raiders’ pass game coordinator.

While not a speed demon on the outside, at his height and weight, Sims offers plenty of jets to beat defenders on the perimeter. He also has the box-out-type body to shield defenders from the ball on jump balls or even on slants or passes over the middle.

Sims’ biggest contributions on offense arrived during the Commanders’ 2020 season that saw the wide receiver group get decimated by injury. The tall wideout earned a career-high 639 snaps on offense and produced 477 yards and a touchdown on 32 catches (a robust 14.9 yards per catch average) that year as he started 10 of Washington’s 16 games.

But as the wide receiver room got healthy and added more talent, Sims’ participated on offense waned after that 2020 season. He garnered 211 snaps in 2021 and produced 211 yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches (for a solid 14.1 yarders per catch average).

The undrafted free agent out of Alabama is likely to be on the lower half of the wide receiver depth chart with the Raiders adding Jakobi Meyers and Philip Dorsett in free agency — as well as having incumbents Davante Adams and healthy Hunter Renfrow on the roster. Not to mention any potential adds during the NFL Draft or even after as undrafted free agents.

But special teams is always the easiest way to make an NFL team’s 53-man roster. And what made Hollins a stout gunner on punt coverage unit was using his physicality and speed to beat much smaller blockers to get to the ball an down it. Sims has the capability, but he’ll have to earn it.