Well friends, it’s ‘what-if?’ season for the Las Vegas Raiders and it’s time to start dreaming. Having already covered the list of guys I’d re-sign from last year’s roster, it’s time to look outside the organization for help now.
According to Over the Cap, the Raiders have the ninth-most cap space in the league with just under $55 million to spend. For what it’s worth, Spotrac has the Raiders with the eleventh-most space, but roughly the same number.
So what will they do with it? Last year the Raiders went big right off the bat, splashing the cash for right tackle Trent Brown, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and receiver Tyrell Williams. My guess is that this year will feature a similar approach as the roster has started to fill out with quality depth but still lacks high-end talent in some key areas. With that in mind, here are some names to watch…
Chris Jones, DT
After the performance Jones put together in the Super Bowl, it seems impossible to imagine a scenario in which the Kansas City Chiefs let him walk — but sometimes a team just doesn’t have the space to bring a guy back. If that were the case, the Raiders should be running to the bank to get Jones whatever he wants. A disruptor on the interior of the defensive line is exactly what they need, and this year it’s not a particularly deep position in the draft, so addressing it in free agency would be ideal.
Byron Jones, CB
Given the Dallas Cowboys’ abundance of high-end free agents, Jones looks to be the odd man out, which could be great news for a team like the Raiders. Not only does he have a relationship with new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, but Jones would fill an immediate need as the team’s No. 1 corner. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones graded out as the 11th-best corner over the past two seasons — and adding him would allow Travyon Mullen to develop opposite a proven stud.
Cory Littleton, LB
The Raiders are in desperate need of help at linebacker and Littleton (formerly of the Los Angeles Rams) could be the answer they are looking for. Addressing this position during free agency would free the Raiders up to look elsewhere in the draft — which could be a massive added benefit. Add in the fact that he’s one of the best coverage linebackers in the league (hello, Travis Kelce) and you see why Littleton could be such a coup.
Robby Anderson, WR
You’ve heard the name mentioned in conjunction with the Raiders for a while, so is this the year it finally comes together? Many might think that with the Raiders picking up Williams’ contract that this rules out an Anderson signing, but I’m not so sure about that. We know this year’s draft class is loaded at wide receiver, but what if the Raiders could sign Anderson and add defensive playmakers with their first two draft picks? While Anderson doesn’t have the upside of guys like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, he’s a lot safer play, while also fitting exactly what Las Vegas needs out wide.
Leonard Williams, DL
The former first-round pick has been a disappointment for the length of his career to this point, but at just 26, some team will see the potential and take a chance. If you’re looking for a sleeper, this might be the guy. Keep in mind that when he came out of college, now Raiders general manager Mike Mayock identified him as the best defensive player in the entire draft.
Breshad Perriman, WR
Another former first-round pick, Perriman is coming off the best season of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and he comes with the one thing Jon Gruden wants more than anything else: speed. At 6’2″, Perriman ran a 4.25 40-yard dash at the combine, numbers which should have Gruden drooling after seeing what speed did for Kansas City in Miami.