The Las Vegas Raiders are in the swing of training camp which means players like offensive linemen Andre James and Jermaine Eluemunor, who are entering contract years, are in the beginning stages of building their cases to stick around next season. So for guys like James, Eluemunor and the other significant players on the Raiders’ roster entering the last year of their deals, what do they need to prove in 2023?
All contract data below is from OverTheCap.com.
Current contract: 2 years, $8.65 million
2024 Age: 27
Needs to prove: Break mediocrity
In two years as a starter, James has proven to be a solid player by posting honorable PFF grades of 64.8 and 62.8, respectively. However, those figures are also slightly above average, making him replaceable. He needs to take command of the Raiders’ offensive line this season and ideally post a figure in the 70s to keep the team’s brass from looking at other options in the offseason. Becoming a more dominant run-blocker should be the five-year veteran’s primary goal in 2023 as he posted a sub-par mark (59.3) in that department last season.
Current contract: 2 years, $11 million
2024 Age: 28
Needs to prove: Produce
It’s pretty simple for Bilal Nichols this year, he can’t have another 1.5-sack campaign and expect to stick around. Las Vegas brought Nichols in to serve as the team’s top interior rusher, and he ended up ranking tied for 34th at his position with 30 pressures despite logging the 14th-most pass rush snaps. That simply isn’t enough as he needs to fill up the stat sheet more this season, especially since he should be getting some one-on-one opportunities with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones on the edges.
Current contract: 1 year, $3 million
2024 Age: 30
Needs to prove: Repeat last season
Eluemunor had a career year in 2022, posting personal bests in all three major categories that PFF grades for offensive linemen (overall, run- and pass-blocking). His overall grade of 75.3 was just shy of the top 20 among offensive tackles, falling one-tenth of a point shy of tying Braxton Jones for the 20th spot. The problem is that looks like a fluke seeing as he was a backup for the first five years of his career. So, if Eluemunor can put together another strong showing this season, he’ll strengthen his case for a bigger contract in the offseason.
Current contract: 1 year, $3 million
2024 Age: 31
Needs to prove: Be a ball hawk
The Raiders brought Marcus Peters in to do what he does best; intercept passes. Las Vegas has ranked dead last in the NFL for that category in each of the last two seasons, so Peters’ 32 career picks are certainly a welcomed sight. However, he only had one a year ago and tore an ACL in 2021, and he turned 30 years old in the offseason. That’s a lot to overcome but the Oakland native can still earn a second deal with the Silver and Black if he proves to be a solution to one of their biggest problems by regaining his pre-2021 form.
Current contract: 1 year, $10.1 million (if signed)
2024 Age: 26
Needs to prove: Be present
I won’t waste too much of your time as Josh Jacobs’ contract situation with the Raiders has been well-documented over the last several weeks. It’s hard to pin down what more the reining rushing camp needs to prove, but he will need to show up and continue to be a positive influence in the locker room when he’s there. While it’s understandable that Jacobs isn’t at training camp, he does need to ‘be present’ by maintaing a good attitude and buying-in—rather than just physically being there—for the front office to consider paying him the money he’s looking for.
Hooper contract: 1 year, $2.75 million
Hooper 2024 Age: 30
Needs to prove: Show value as TE2
Seeing as the Raiders recently let O.J. Howard go, it seems like Austin Hooper is off to a good start with the Silver and Black. Hooper is expected to back up rookie tight end Michael Mayer, who is obviously sticking around for a while, so Hooper needs to prove to the coaching staff that they’re worthy of a roster spot as a second tight end. Whether that’s as a receiver or a blocker, it’s imperative that he shows value. Since Davante Adams, Hunter Renfow, Jakobi Meyers and Mayer are all under contract for next season, helping the run game will likely be the easiest way for him to make an impact.
Current contract: 4 years, $3.8 million
2024 Age: 25
Needs to prove: Capable of being a starter
Amik Robertson stepped into a bigger role and a had a good season in 2022. Making a handful of spot starts and serving as one of the first cornerbacks off the bench, he led the Raiders with six pass break ups and tied for the most interceptions on the team with two. He’s expected to play similar role this season, but the problem is that’s typically a spot reserved for cheap veterans or young players who are still developing in the league. So, Robertson needs to establish himself as a starter if he wants a lucrative deal from the Silver and Black.
Current contract: 1 year, $1.75 million
2024 Age: 31
Needs to prove: Capable of a bigger workload
Somewhat quietly, Ameer Abdullah had a good year last season. While he only had four carries for 20 yards, two of those touches went for first downs and he caught 25 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. That’s not bad considering he only participated in 16 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. However, that also kind of highlights the issue with Abdullah, his role isn’t big enough to justify keeping him around much longer.
Luckily for him, until Jacobs shows up, the Raiders running back room is wide open for anyone in it to get a significant amount of touches. If the nine-year veteran can take advantage of those opportunities, he could buy himself a few more years in Sin City, though his age is certainly working against him.