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Mailbag: Who should Raiders target at offensive coordinator?

Returning Raider Nation’s questions for the week

Rams Bucs in NFL Playoff
Zac Robinson
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If the offseason is a big puzzle, the Las Vegas Raiders have their corner pieces in place now that Antonio Pierce has officially been named head coach and Tom Telesco was hired as general manager. All that’s left to do is fill in the middle and we’ll have a good picture of what the 2024 Raiders will look like.

So, this week’s mailbag is focused on just that, filling the remaining holes the Silver and Black have.

Question: 1) Favorite OC fit(s)?

1B) Best singular roster addition to pair with OC?

2) Top defensive FA targets (realistically)?

3) Favorite draft targets days 1 and 2?

Answer: 1) Of the names that have recently been thrown in the mix, Zac Robinson would be my top choice. He comes from the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan tree and is an up-and-comer who I think could thrive if given the opportunity. Also, he was considered the “favorite” to get the Chargers’ OC job last offseason before Kellen Moore became available, so Robinson is somewhat connected to Telesco to help make this pairing happen.

1B) I think the Raiders are in good shape with their offensive skill positions and I’d like to see them target defensive players in free agency, but they could use some help at offensive line.

Kevin Dotson, guard from the Rams, would be a great target up front. He got traded to Los Angeles in the offseason and had a career year as Pro Football Focus’ second-highest graded (84.4) guard while playing in McVay’s offense. Dotson also said moving over to his more natural position at right guard helped him, which the Raiders will need since Greg Van Roten is an impending free agent. Marcus broke down Dotson in the video below if anyone is interested.

2) Jaylon Johnson, Patrick Queen and Christian Wilkins. We’ll find out how realistic that is when we get close to the franchise tag deadline!

3) Very early and could change, but Bo Nix, Kool-Aid McKinstry and Jer’Zhan Newton on Day 1. Day 2, Byron Murphy II, T.J. Tampa and Cooper Beebe.

Q: Do you think hiring an OC without experience is smart knowing AP is more defensive-oriented? With all the mentoring for AP, who would be there to help the fresh OC who probably hasn’t called plays or led their own offense?

A: The problem is any good offensive coordinator who has experience is likely going to be up for a head coaching gig, so I don’t think the Raiders are going to have many options to hire a veteran. Even Alex Van Pelt, who has been rumored to be a contender for the job in Las Vegas and has experience as an offensive coordinator, doesn’t have much play-calling experience since Kevin Stefanski ran the offense in Cleveland.

Obviously, the coaching staff is fluid right now but if Scott Turner and Edgar Bennett are retained, both of them have experience as an OC and have been in the league for nearly 45 years combined. So, I think they’ll be fine hiring a fresh play-caller, assuming they pick the right one!

Q: Now with Tom Telesco in Las Vegas and Jim Harbaugh going to the Chargers to be their new head coach, do you think Chargers OC Kellen Moore makes sense to fill our OC position with the Telesco connection?

A: It’s certainly an option and Moore has a good track record of success with the Cowboys. My concern with him is he tries to do too much, running a lot of different concepts week-to-week rather than having a stable playbook and making slight adjustments here and there. That could be problematic with the Raiders since they’re likely going to have a young quarterback next season whether that be Aidan O’Connell or a rookie.

I wouldn't mind hiring Moore, but he isn’t my first choice.

Q: For a vertical passing attack to work, the offensive line has to be tip-top. Your thoughts on shoring up the OL in the draft/free agency, bruv?

A: Three starters from last year’s team are impending free agents; Van Roten, Andre James and Jermaine Eluemunor, so the Raiders are going to have to use both the draft and free agency to address the offensive line. Maybe Thayer Munford steps up and takes command of the right tackle spot, but I’d at least bring in some competition and/or an insurance policy. The offensive line will be one of the team’s biggest offseason needs.

Q: Outside of QB what’s the biggest need of the Raiders?

A: Cornerback and defensive tackle is a close second. They need more talent at the top of both position groups and could use depth at both spots as well.

Amik Robertson ended up being their best corner last year and he’s a free agent, so Las Vegas will need a starter on the opposite side of Jack Jones, who has plenty of talent but isn’t a sure thing at this point in his career.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Jack Jones
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

At defensive tackle, Jerry Tillery, Matthew Butler and Byron Young are the only three players left who are under contract. Also, Tillery’s deal has an out this offseason and the Raiders just hired the GM who cut him midseason two years ago. So, they need quite a bit of help here.

Q: Does Renfrow for sure get traded this offseason?

A: Traded, no because I don’t think another team is going to take on that contract for a player who is coming off of the worst year of his career. But released/cut, that feels inevitable seeing as he’s making way too much money for way too little production. The front office can save up to $11.8 million in cap space by letting Hunter Renfrow go, so I think his days in Las Vegas are numbered.

Q: Any whispers about Champ and Patrick Graham staying or leaving?

A: There’s a good chance both are back.

At the time of writing, there are only two head coach openings left; the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders. Graham is still a candidate in Seattle and the Seahawks are wrapping up their second round of interviews this weekend, and he isn’t in the running for the Commanders.

Champ Kelly was in the mix for the Carolina Panthers’ GM job, but that went to Dan Morgan. Kelly hasn’t interviewed anywhere else and is still under contract as the assistant general manager in Las Vegas, so it’s looking like he’ll be Telesco’s No. 2.

Q: If Tom Delaney was in charge of the cap and contracts then isn’t he responsible for the likes of Cory Littleton, Lamarcus Joyner and Carl Nassib salaries that cost us cap space?

A: Yes and no. Delaney is the math guy who helps assess how much a player/free agent is worth, but it’s ultimately up to the general manager and/or head coach to evaluate talent and determine the scheme fit.

Especially with Littleton and Joyner, those contracts ended up being bad and carrying dead money because neither played well on the field so the talent evaluation was off and they were released before their contracts expired. Granted, the Raiders were kind of desperate at both positions at the time. However, in my opinion, Nassib’s worth was always way off, so that one was certainly a miss by Delaney.

In other words, Delaney is somewhat culpable for those contracts but the responsibility lies more with the talent evaluators.

Q: Any chance the Raiders and Broncos could swap Russell Wilson and Jimmy G? If so, what would compensation on both sides have to look like to make it work?

A: I’d be pretty surprised if that happens.

I don’t think Jimmy Garoppolo has much or any trade value seeing as he’s coming off of a terrible season and every other team knows the Raiders are likely going to release him anyway. In other words, if another team is interested in Garoppolo, they can just wait until Las Vegas gets rid of him and pick him up without having to take on that contract or give up assets for him.

The Broncos are in the same spot with Wilson, so I think it’s much more likely that both guys just end up getting released and become free agents.

Q: I really like Josh Jacobs but realize the money on offense will go to nearly every other offensive position than running back. Do you feel with White showing success in the final few weeks of the season makes it harder for Jacobs to get re-signed due to his cost vs. keeping White and going cheaper through the draft?

Las Vegas Raiders v Buffalo Bills
Josh Jacobs, Zamir White
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

A: Yes, 100 percent. I think Zamir White’s strong finish to the season sealed Jacobs’ fate. As you mentioned, the Raiders will probably target a running back in the draft who can help on passing downs, but I’d be surprised if Jacobs is back next season at this point.

SnB Stop the Run
Do you see a path for the Raiders trading up into the top 3 or 5? There is a lot of people thinking this could happen. In my opinion, if the top 3 QBs are rated as good as we think they will be, why would a bottom feeder team pass on the pick of a coach/GM’s career lifetime?

A: I’ll preface my answer by saying I think it’s more probable that the Raiders don’t trade into the top five than they do. But the best or most likely path of them trading up is if the Bears decide to stick with Justin Fields and shop the No. 1 overall pick again.

The other option would be if New England decides to build out the rest of their roster, which needs a ton of help, before drafting a quarterback. That could open up a few avenues as the Raiders could trade with the Patriots for No. 3 overall, or the Pats take someone like Marvin Harrison Jr. and the Cardinals opt to shop the fourth pick. Los Angeles isn’t trading with Las Vegas, so it’s really more of a discussion about the top four than five.

Recoil
Harbaugh - 44-19-1, 3 conference championship games and a SB appearence in 4 years
Payton - 169-105, SB winner, 9 trips to the playoffs in 16 years
Reid - 269 -154 -1, 2 SB wins in 4 trips,19 trips to the playoffs in 25 years, NFC and AFC Champ
Pierce 5-4
Are we kidding ourselves hoping for a miracle?

A: Sheesh, let Pierce have a full season as head coach before getting this negative.

Indy!
Could there possibly be a worse AFC title game match-up for the Nation and if so - who would it be? Because right now I feel like I'm getting married on Super Bowl Sunday and my bride to be is that woman who does the annoying deodorant commercials that run non-stop on every channel.

A: Chiefs vs. Patriots, Chiefs vs. Steelers, or any combination of AFC West teams would be way worse. Unless I’m missing something, the Raiders and Ravens don’t have a deep-rooted rivalry so I’m very confused by this question, lol.


That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to SBPQuestions1@gmail.com or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will continue to publish on Thursdays.