The first wave of NFL free agency has come and gone, and every team is trying to make the right moves to set themselves up for next season. Let’s take a look at what the Raiders did in the first week of free agency and what effects their moves will have on the franchise.
CB Darius Phillips: One year, $1.5 million, $200,000 guaranteed
The first move Las Vegas made this spring was an underrated one. Phillips, who has spent his entire career with the Bengals, is known primarily for his abilities as a return man. He struggled as the primary punt returner for Cincinnati in 2021, muffing two punts. However, in limited snaps as a cornerback the past three years, Phillips has played fairly well. He has shown the versatility to play inside or outside as a corner, and he may be able to crack a spot in the rotation this season for the Raiders.
DT Bilal Nichols: Two years, $11 million, $9 million guaranteed
Another underrated move for Ziegler and the Raiders, Nichols fills a need on the interior of the team’s defensive line. With the versatility to play nose tackle, 3-technique, or 5-technique, Nichols was worth the investment. Throughout his career with the Bears, Nichols has always been a solid run-stopper, and he showed great pass-rushing upside in 2020, with 32 pressures and six sacks. If he can stay healthy, he can be a long-term stalwart alongside Maxx Crosby.
EDGE Chandler Jones: Three years, $51 million, $32 million guaranteed
Ziegler and Co. made up for Mayock’s mistake of signing Yannick Ngakoue last offseason by signing one of the best edge rushers on the market for big money. Though his run defense has never been great and is getting worse, Jones showed that he is still a great pass rusher in 2021, racking up 47 pressures and 11 sacks on the season. Opposing quarterbacks best beware of the duo of Jones and Maxx Crosby screaming off the edge.
DE Yannick Ngakoue for CB Rock Ya-Sin
Arguably the best move of the offseason so far came right along with the Jones signing. Las Vegas was able to move off of Ngakoue for a starting-caliber player at a huge position of need in Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin will likely start alongside Trayvon Mullen Jr. after Casey Hayward Jr. signed with the Falcons. He’s coming off the best season of his career with the Colts. A long, young corner with athletic upside, Ya-Sin is a huge get for the new Raiders regime.
No. 22 and No. 53 picks for WR Davante Adams
At the end of the first week of free agency, the Raiders made the biggest of their moves yet. The team decided to make the splash move and trade for Davante Adams, arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL and one of Derek Carr’s best friends. The team only had to give up a first and second-round pick for the longtime Packer, and Ziegler promptly signed him to a five-year, $140 million dollar extension, with $66 million guaranteed.
Adams fills a huge need at wide receiver for the Raiders, who still needed a number one guy. However, there is one problem. The move likely confirms and requires a long-term commitment to Derek Carr, who, as good as he is, will likely be the fourth-best quarterback in the division for the foreseeable future if Broncos QB Russell Wilson returns to form.
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