We’re about two weeks away from the start of 2022 NFL Free Agency and with a new coach and a new general manager in Las Vegas, it’s looking to be an interesting next couple of months for the Raiders. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look at the biggest moves of the past couple of offseasons in Las Vegas and review the hits and misses of the old Raiders regime, and this week we’ll look at 2020.
2019 Season Overview:
Despite the issues of the 2019 free-agent class and draft, the 2019 season was characterized by improvement in all aspects of the game for the Raiders, and the team was able to finish with a 7-9 record. The emergence of Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller in particular made a noticeable difference in the Raiders’ offensive potency. With this, the 2020 offseason looked like an important one in helping the team become a playoff contender in their first season in Las Vegas.
2020 Raiders Offseason
Going into 2020, Mike Mayock and the Raiders were armed with $53.6 million in cap space and two first-round picks. Going into the spring, the focus for the team would be improving at wide receiver, linebacker, and cornerback.
March 17, 2020: Raiders sign LB Cory Littleton to a three-year, $35.25 million dollar deal with $22 million guaranteed
Littleton was an intriguing player coming off a career year with the Rams in which he showed a strong coverage skill set and the ability to be one of the better playmakers in the league at his position. The team decided to go all-in and give him one of the bigger linebacker contracts in free agency.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Littleton has struggled to live up to even the most modest expectations in his time in Las Vegas. He’s struggled in both run defense and coverage the past two years and now has the real possibility of being a cap casualty for the Raiders in 2022.
Top-50 Draft Picks:
Round 1, Pick 12: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
The Raiders had their pick of the litter of a strong wide receiver class in 2020, and the team decided to select Ruggs, the speedster out of Alabama, just five picks before the Cowboys selected Pro-Bowler CeeDee Lamb and just 10 picks before the Vikings selected All-Pro Justin Jefferson.
As a rookie in 2020, Ruggs struggled to stay on the field and struggled to make an impact while he was on it. In 2021, he showed noticeable improvement as a wide receiver but his Raiders career would come to a tragic end after Ruggs rear-ended another car, killing a woman, while under the influence of alcohol last November. Ruggs’ career as an NFL player is likely over after a year and a half in the league.
Round 1, Pick 19: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Arnette was seen as a huge reach by most after the Raiders selected him at pick 19. As a rookie, Arnette also struggled to find his way on the field for a cornerback-needy Raiders team. After a video was released of Arnette making death threats and carrying firearms, the team decided to release him in November 2021. Arnette made almost no positive impact in his first two seasons as a Raider, and he looks to be out of the league after just two seasons.
The 2020 offseason was a bad one for the Raiders, without a single big hit in free agency or the draft. It showed in the team’s final record in 2020, as the team won only one more game, finishing 8-8. Shrewder moves likely would have resulted in a playoff berth for the Raiders in 2020, instead, it became just another blemish on the resume of Gruden and Mayock.
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