After June 1, the Las Vegas Raiders will have about $19.8 million in additional cap space because they designated linebacker Cory Littleton and defensive end Carl Nassib as post-June 1 cuts.
Per Over the Cap, the Raiders currently have $5.5 million in cap space, which means general manager Dave Ziegler will have more than enough financial resources to patch up shallow areas on the depth chart.
With several big names left on the open market, the Raiders can potentially sign one or two before the team takes a break for several weeks between the end of mandatory minicamp in mid-June and training camp in late July.
Let’s file down the Raiders’ free-agent options to the top three and rank them based on priority. Which name should appear atop Ziegler’s shortlist?
3. DT Ndamukong Suh
The Raiders have revamped their defensive line with several additions between free agency and the draft, though Johnathan Hankins and Bilal Nichols may be the only players who are near locks for prominent roles.
As rookies, Neil Farrell Jr. (fourth-rounder) and Matthew Butler (fifth-rounder) should make the 53-man roster, but they would likely have to flash through the preseason to earn significant playing time for the regular season.
If the Raiders sign Ndamukong Suh, he would be an upgrade over Vernon Butler, who hasn’t moved the needle since the 2019 campaign. According to The Athletic’s Greg Auman, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have a strong interest in re-signing Suh.
“The Bucs were lukewarm to defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh even before they used their top draft pick on a player at his position in Logan Hall. To sign him now would be to actively chip into Hall’s role before they’ve even seen what he can do. Bucs GM Jason Licht said he wasn’t shutting the door on signing Suh, but then said, “there are a lot of injuries that happen throughout the year,” suggesting he might only be an option in case of a serious injury.”
Back in January, Suh turned 35 years old, but he hasn’t missed a game since 2011. In three seasons with the Buccaneers, he recorded 112 tackles, 23 for loss, 14.5 sacks and 72 pressures.
2. CB James Bradberry
The Raiders have obvious ties to James Bradberry, who played two seasons with the New York Giants under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. In 2020, he earned a Pro Bowl nod with 18 pass breakups and three interceptions while allowing an 81.2 passer rating in coverage.
Las Vegas signed Anthony Averett and acquired Rock Ya-Sin from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
Averett only started for one full season with the Baltimore Ravens. At 25 years old, Ya-Sin has upside, but he went through some rough stretches with the Colts, and at times, fell out of the starting lineup because of his inconsistencies.
If the Raiders want a more established player, they should have Bradberry on their shortlist of late-spring free-agent options. Because of his familiarity with Graham’s system, he can step in and fill a starting role right away.
The Silver and Black should feel a bit uneasy about rolling out Ya-Sin or Averett in a division with quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert. With top-notch passers in the division, the Las Vegas Raiders need to rely on proven production more than potential at cornerback. In the AFC West, that’s a premium position.
1. RT Daryl Williams
Daryl Williams ranks No. 1 on the list because the Raiders don’t have a young promising upstart player at right tackle unless Alex Leatherwood shows positive signs through training camp and the preseason.
Furthermore, with the New England Patriots, head coach Josh McDaniels and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo favored bigger bodies at right tackle. Trent Brown (6-foot-8, 380 lbs), Mike Onwenu (6-foot-3, 350 lbs) and Jermaine Eluemunor (6-foot-4, 345 lbs) played the position for the AFC East club over the last two years.
Listed at 6-foot-5, 312 pounds on the Raiders’ official website, Leatherwood doesn’t fit the mold that McDaniels and Bricillo have preferred at right tackle. He’s closer in size to Ted Karras (6-foot-4, 305 lbs) and Shaq Mason (6-foot-1, 310 lbs), who started at the guard spots in New England last year.
Based on the idea that Leatherwood seems suited to play right guard rather than right tackle in McDaniels’ system, Williams becomes priority No. 1 once the Las Vegas Raiders acquire additional cap space after June 1.
Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.