In this offseason review series, we take a look at the biggest moves of the past few offseasons in Las Vegas and review the hits and misses of the old Raiders regime, and this week we’ll look at 2021.
2020 Season Overview:
Once again, the 2020 offseason was a bust, and it showed, with the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders only winning one more game than in 2019. The team’s offense was improved, with a refreshingly aggressive Derek Carr making explosive downfield throws to TE Darren Waller and WR Nelson Agholor. However, Las Vegas’s defense was one of the worst units in the league. The front office needed to hit on some signings or draft picks in 2021 or questions would likely be brought up about Gruden and Mayock’s job security.
After cutting Lamarcus Joyner and Tyrell Williams, and trading away Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson, Mike Mayock and the Raiders were armed with about $52 million in cap space. Going into the spring, the focus for the team would be the offensive line and pretty much every position on defense.
Biggest Offseason Moves
March 15, 2021: Raiders sign EDGE Yannick Ngakoue to a two-year, $26 million dollar deal with $21 million guaranteed
After a long saga that saw him bounce from Jacksonville to Minnesota to Baltimore, Ngakoue finally ended up in Las Vegas on a deal paying him $13 million a year. His presence opposite Maxx Crosby or Clelin Ferrell was supposed to take the Raiders pass rush to the next level. However, despite sacking the quarterback 10 times on the season, Ngakoue had probably the worst season of his career, being especially bad in run defense and only an average pass rusher on a down-to-down basis.
March 31, 2021: Raiders sign OT Kolton Miller to a three-year, $54 million dollar contract extension with $42.6 million guaranteed
The former first-round pick was coming off his best season in 2020 due to his much-improved pass-blocking. Las Vegas decided to keep him on the team long-term by paying him big money. In 2021, he proved to be worth the extension, finishing the season as one of the best left tackles in the entire league and keeping Derek Carr’s blindside clean.
Top-50 Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 17: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Seen as a reach at the time by many draft pundits, the Raiders decided to select a player from Alabama’s National Championship team instead of the more well-regarded Christian Darrisaw out of Virginia Tech. Leatherwood proved the media right from the very beginning of the season as he struggled so much at right tackle out of the gate that he had to move to right guard. He didn’t fare much better there either, giving up 67 total pressures on the season. It’s early on, but Leatherwood looks like a bust early for Las Vegas.
Round 2, Pick 43: Tre’von Moehrig, FS, TCU
Moehrig, unlike other defensive backs drafted in the Gruden/Mayock era, was seen as a steal in the second round. A pro-ready prospect who could slot right in as a single-high safety, Moehrig filled an obvious need for the Raiders. In his rookie season, Moehrig played very well, breaking up five passes, recording an interception, and shoring up the deep middle of the field. He will likely be a mainstay in the Raiders lineup for years to come.
The 2021 offseason was another mixed bag for the regime, but with the development of Kolton Miller, Hunter Renfrow, and Maxx Crosby, the Raiders were able to find their way into a wild-card playoff spot. However, it wasn’t enough to help Mayock keep his job after the season. It did, however, set new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler up with a few nice pieces for the future.
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