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Raiders Roster Plan Should Include FA Focus on Defense, Draft Focus on WR

Moe Moton
raiders roster byron jones
Jones would help out significantly in the Raiders secondary. Photo: USAToday

If you put aside the usual circus that is talk about the Las Vegas at the quarterback position, the Raiders roster is in need of help on both sides of the ball. To that end, the question becomes: what’s the best way to continue building the Raiders roster?

We all know the offense is further along than the defense. The glaring need for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock on the offensive side of the ball continues to be a true playmaker at wide receiver.

Among top-tier free agent wide receivers, it’s Amari Cooper, A.J. Green (if healthy) and then everyone else.

Both could re-sign with their respective clubs, the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Raiders need a game-changer at the position—someone who can put safeties on high alert and cornerbacks on their heels.

The Raiders could pursue Emmanuel Sanders or Robby Anderson as solid second-tier wideouts, but the latter could cost $13-15 million, a price his current team isn’t willing to pay, per The Athletic‘s Connor Hughes. According to Spotrac, the former may command $10 million on the open market.

Sanders would be a more cost-effective option than Anderson. At 32 years old, he still makes plays and isn’t afraid to let you know it:

Sanders is open to re-signing with the San Francisco 49ers, but he would have a solid line of interested teams, which may slightly increase his salary cost.

Unwavering Confidence in Tyrell Williams

Tyrell Williams’ $11 million base salary became fully guaranteed February 5th, which means he’s going to be on the 2020 roster:

Gruden still believes we’ve yet to see the best of Williams, per The Athletic‘s Vic Tafur.

“They could have walked away with no dead money hit on the salary cap, but apparently coach Jon Gruden still thinks Williams can be a No. 1 receiver — something the team said several times last year, even after they traded for Antonio Brown,” Tafur wrote.

Raiders roster Tyrell Williams las vegas
Williams is still a Gruden favorite and was beset by injury in 2019.

In 2019, Williams battled plantar fasciitis in both feet, which caused a significant drop-off in production after the first few weeks. He recorded six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the season opener—his best performance with the Silver and Black.

Williams scored a touchdown in five consecutive games to open the 2019 term. He didn’t see the end zone again until Week 15. Gruden pardoned the fifth-year wideout because of his foot issue, per Tafur.

“We still think he’s an excellent player,” Gruden said. “We go back and I watch him in training camp and Week 1 when he was healthy against Denver, and he’s a talented guy. But it’s hard to play when your feet are on fire and his feet were hurting bad.”

Nonetheless, the Raiders still need help at wide receiver. If Williams goes down, they don’t have the firepower to compete in high-scoring games.

Wide Receiver: An Easy Problem to Solve During the 2020 Draft

General manager Mike Mayock and Gruden could peruse the wide receiver market for quality depth.

Breshad Perriman, a 2015 first-rounder, flashed his potential at the end of the 2019 campaign as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ lead pass-catcher with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on injured reserve nursing hamstring injuries. Between Weeks 13 and 17, he ranked third league-wide in receiving yards (506) and tied for the most touchdown receptions (five).

Then again, Mayock selected Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round of last year’s draft. Because Antonio Brown forced his way out of Oakland and Williams’ injury, the Clemson product assumed a bigger role than expected. Still, he progressed as the season went on and finished with back-to-back 100-yard, one-touchdown performances in the last two outings.

Mayock has earned trust in his eye for wide receiver talent with a solid Day 3 hit. Now, he’ll assess a draft class loaded with high-potential prospects at the position.

CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy are favorites among the Raiders fanbase, but the list goes far beyond those two prospects.

Raiders roster Henry Ruggs III
Henry Ruggs III checks all the boxes for the Raiders at WR.

If Gruden wants speed, Henry Ruggs III, Jalen Reagor, and K.J. Hill check that box. For more size, Tee Higgins (6’4″, 215 lbs), Michael Pittman Jr. (6’4″, 220 lbs) and Tyler Johnson (6’2″, 205 lbs) can satisfy that requirement. Brandon Aiyuk (6’1″, 206 lbs) and Justin Jefferson (6’3″, 192 lbs) provide a good blend of both traits.

Las Vegas could acquire a wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks and double-dip using one of three third-round selections to overhaul the position.

With Williams’ $11 million salary on the books, and Renfrow’s strong finish to the 2019 season, why overpay for Anderson or any other veteran wideout?

The Raiders just need a high-upside starter and another capable pass-catcher for depth in case of injury. The additions would help this offense outscore opponents when the defense struggles to make stops or come up with turnovers, which speaks to a bigger issue on the other side of the ball.

What about the Defense? Click the arrow to continue….