The Las Vegas Raiders enter into the 2022 offseason after a 10-7 season and a wild card berth. Despite their most successful season since 2016, the Raiders will be searching for a new head coach and general manager this offseason after the catastrophic end of the Jon Gruden era. Here’s a look at what I would do if I was hired as the Raiders GM this offseason.
Top Head Coach Candidates
Jim Harbaugh – HC, Michigan Wolverines
The former Stanford, turned 49ers, turned Michigan head coach is rumored to be eyeing an NFL job, specifically in Las Vegas. Harbaugh started his coaching career as the Raiders quarterback coach and could be looking to return. He has a proven track record as an NFL head coach, leading the 49ers to three straight NFC championships and a Super Bowl appearance in the early 2010s.
Rich Bisaccia – Interim HC, Las Vegas Raiders
Bisaccia took over a Las Vegas team in total turmoil mid-year in 2021, and he was somehow able to get them back on track. He may not be the most exciting hire but he does have almost 40 years of coaching experience and the players seem to like him a lot.
Doug Pederson – Former HC, Philadelphia Eagles
Pederson is another candidate who has a proven track record of success at the NFL level. As the head coach of the Eagles, he led Philadelphia to three straight playoff berths and a Super Bowl win. He also has AFC West connections as he is the former offensive coordinator for the Chiefs.
“The Raiders are looking to take a big swing to fill that head coaching spot,” NFL insider Albert Breer said on the Rich Eisen show Tuesday.
With that being said, Harbaugh is the right guy for the job if he is willing to make the jump back to the NFL from the college game. At Michigan, he proved an ability to adapt and grow as a coach and has always been a proven culture builder. For the purposes of this exercise, Harbaugh brings in former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator (Fangio was the 49ers defensive coordinator under Harbaugh).
WR Zay Jones – 3 years, $27 million, $16 million guaranteed
Jones is coming off one of the best years of his career despite not being a full-time starter until Week 9. Over the second half of the season (including the wild card game), he recorded 46 catches for 492 yards, which would be good for 71 catches for 760 yards over the course of an entire season. Las Vegas should be willing to take a shot on Jones’ upside with a reasonable contract.
RB Kenyan Drake, OG Denzelle Good, EDGE Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatoksi – Total Savings: $13.2 million
Projected Cap Space: $44.6 million
Team Needs – OG, OT, DI, LB, CB, SS
CB Carlton Davis – 4 years, $67 million, 51 million guaranteed
Davis is a big, physical young corner who was instrumental to the Buccaneers Super Bowl run in 2020. He can play both man and zone and can add another cornerstone to the Raiders’ defense. There’s no doubt he should be the Raiders’ number one target in free agency this offseason.
SS Jordan Whitehead – 3 years, $18 million, $11.5 million guaranteed
Another Buccaneer, Whitehead is a great run defender who will provide an immediate upgrade over Johnathan Abram. With a back five of Davis, Trayvon Mullen, Nate Hobbs, Tre’von Moehrig, and Whitehead, the Raiders will go from having a secondary with a lot of holes to a very solid one with great upside.
OG Connor Williams – 3 years, $20 million, $12.5 million guaranteed
Williams would be a good pickup for two reasons. He played tackle in college, and it would be worth a shot to give him a chance to win the spot opposite LT Kolton Miller. If that doesn’t work out, Williams has already proven to be one of the best young guards in the league and can be Miller’s long-term partner on the left side.
DI Folorunso Fatukasi – 3 years. $25 million, $15 million guaranteed
The Raiders had a lot of struggles in run defense this past season, and they’ll need to address the middle of their defense to begin to fix that. Though it’s a bit expensive for a nose tackle, Fatukasi should bring a stopper to the Las Vegas defensive line that just hasn’t been there in recent years.
Draft Sam Howell
Under a new regime, the Raiders will likely be looking for a new long-term signal-caller. Howell has loads of talent, and his arm strength and mobility make him a great fit for Harbaugh’s offense. With time to sit and learn behind Derek Carr, Howell has a chance to carry the Raiders to heights they haven’t reached since 1983.
Extend DE Maxx Crosby – 5 years, $ 125 million, $100 million guaranteed
This may seem steep for Crosby, but after an All-Pro season, he deserves every penny. Crosby is the leader and best player on the Raiders, and he’ll command a similar contract to the ones Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt have earned over the past few years. With Carr’s contract coming off the books soon, Las Vegas can afford to spend some money and pay their best defensive player since Khalil Mack.
With these moves, the Raiders can set themselves up to compete for a playoff spot in 2022 and create a solid future for the organization. This is already a playoff team so a few shrewd moves in the offseason could go a long way towards contention.
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