Las Vegas Raiders: 5 roster moves to make before 2024 training camp starts

Las Vegas Raiders
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Even though the Las Vegas Raiders have an extended break between mid-June and late July, general manager Tom Telesco should consider several roster moves before training camp.

At this point of the offseason, general managers tie up loose ends on the books, signing players to extensions and restructuring contracts.

Based on coaching evaluations from organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, some teams will acquire players off the free-agent market or via trade.

The Raiders have a full roster of 91 players. The club signed defensive end David Agoha through the International Player Pathway program, so he’s exempt from the roster count.

Nonetheless, Telesco would have to release a player to add one.

Telesco has already shown a willingness to reward his own players. He could extend a couple of key defenders, though the team should also look to fill a position of need with a potential starter.

Here is a short to-do list for Telesco with three objectives to consider before the team starts training camp.

Sign cornerback Adoree’ Jackson

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
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The Raiders seem intrigued by second-year cornerback Jakorian Bennett and rookie fourth-rounder Decamerion Richardson enough to pass on notable veteran cornerbacks.

As a rookie, Bennett mostly struggled through 14 games (four starts) and didn’t play a single defensive snap in the team’s final three contests. He allowed a 102.5 passer rating in coverage.

Yet Bennett could get a second chance to earn a starting role on the boundary following Amik Robertson’s departure in free agency. 

Though Bennett will get another shot to work his way into a lead role, competing against Richardson and seventh-year veteran Brandon Facyson, Telesco can make him earn it against tougher competition.

In 2021, Adoree’ Jackson had arguably his best year under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, allowing a 52.1 percent completion rate and a 69.3 passer rating in coverage. 

Turning 29 in September, Jackson can still play quality snaps on the boundary and provide a pinch of depth as a backup slot defender. Last year, he lined up for 115 snaps in the slot, per Pro Football Focus

Obviously, Jackson knows the system. So, he can slide right into a starting spot if the Raiders aren’t impressed with Bennett or Richardson over the summer.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders: 3 key positions to address after June 1 cuts

Sign slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
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Tom Telesco probably isn’t going to sign two cornerbacks with a full roster, but if he doesn’t want to add an experienced starting boundary defender like Adoree’ Jackson, Chandon Sullivan could be an option because of his ability to line up in the slot.

The Raiders let their backup slot cornerbacks, Amik Robertson and Tyler Hall, walk in free agency, and they didn’t replace their skill sets.

As of now, the Raiders don’t have a clear-cut No. 2 nickelback behind Nate Hobbs, who’s missed 10 games over the last two seasons.

Perhaps defensive coordinator Patrick Graham should experiment with Sam Webb in the slot, though he’s not a natural nickelback. Sullivan can fill that void. He’s primarily lined up on the inside with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Pittsburgh Steelers over the previous five seasons.

Sullivan had a decent 2023 campaign with the Steelers, allowing 8.5 yards per completion, which is his career-best, a 59.4 passer rating, and zero touchdowns in coverage. For comparison, Hobbs allowed 8.9 yards per completion, a 97.2 passer rating, and four touchdowns in coverage last season.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders: Breaking down the biggest position battles as OTAs ramp up

Sign Malcolm Koonce to an extension

NFL: Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders
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Last year, the Raiders released Chandler Jones. Tyree Wilson, the team’s first pick of the 2023 draft, needed time to recover from foot surgery. Malcolm Koonce took full advantage of a chance to start opposite of Maxx Crosby.

Koonce barely saw the field in his first two years, playing just 116 defensive snaps between 2021 and 2022. In 2023, he had a breakout year, recording 43 tackles, nine for loss, three forced fumbles, eight sacks, and 23 pressures.

Koonce could put on an encore performance in the same role, and if he does, the Raiders would have to pay a costly price to retain him in 2025 because of the value of his position.

Koonce may be a double-digit sack season away from commanding an eight-figure salary, north of $10 million annually. To beat the potential rising cost, the Raiders can sign him to an early extension.

Related: Why the Las Vegas Raiders may be stingy with extensions in the 2024 offseason

Sign Robert Spillane to an extension

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
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Robert Spillane served as a part-time starter with the Pittsburgh Steelers and experienced his ups and downs in coverage before he put together a career year with the Raiders.

Of course, head coach and former linebackers coach Antonio Pierce deserves some credit for developing an underestimated group, though Spillane’s veteran leadership and playmaking ability helped change the complexion of the defense.

Most high-end defensive units have a quality playmaker in the middle. The Raiders’ significant improvement on defense aligned with Spillane’s breakout year—that’s not a coincidence.

Pierce sounds excited about rookie fifth-rounder Tommy Eichenberg, but the Raiders should add another year or two to Spillane’s contract, which expires at the end of the 2024 season.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders quarterback competition: Can Aidan O’Connell hold off Gardner Minshew?

Restructure Davante Adams’ contract

Las Vegas Raiders' Davante Adams

Davante Adams’ cap number will rise from $25.4 million this year to $44.1 million next year, and he won’t have any guaranteed money on the two remaining terms of his deal.

Regardless of what happens in the upcoming season, Adams isn’t going to play through the 2025 campaign without any guaranteed money at 32 years old. At that age, he will want financial security.

The Raiders can restructure the last two years of Adams’ contract to stay one step ahead of the buzz about the non-guaranteed years left on his deal.

While at the NFL Scouting Combine, Tom Telesco said he has no intentions to trade Adams.

Recently, Adams said, “This is where I want to be.”

If both sides are invested for the long haul, Telesco can redo Adams’ contract in a way that makes sense for the three-time All-Pro and the team.

Maurice Moton covers the Las Vegas Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.

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