Welcome to the 2020 season of the Las Vegas Raiders.
With the Super Bowl behind us, free agency just a few weeks away and the 2020 NFL Draft within shouting distance, it’s officially time to start looking ahead to the new season. As always, it’s no longer a time of “what-ifs”, but rather “what-could-be’s” — a season of optimism and hope unlike any other.
For the Raiders, it’s especially intriguing because of the success they just experienced. Sure, 7-9 may seem underwhelming to most fanbases (especially given how the Raiders started the season), but for a franchise that has been mired in mediocrity, it was a pleasant surprise. Most importantly, it was a surprise fueled by an influx of new talent and energy — specifically through the draft.
Of course, this off-season is also intriguing because of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas — which is officially official as of the new year. Throw in the usual amount of quarterback controversy, draft hype and Jon Gruden soundbites, and, well, you get the picture.
So, without further ado, let’s set the stage for all that lays before us…
February 24 — the start of the NFL Combine
March 16 — teams can contact and begin discussions (“but no agreements may be reached”) with free agents
March 18 — free agents can sign with teams starting at 1 p.m. PT
April 20 — offseason workouts begin
April 23 — NFL Draft begins
Mid-July — offseason training camp
August 6 — NFL preseason begins
September 10 — NFL regular season begins
Players who were on the roster last season and are set to become unrestricted free agents: Daryl Worley, Karl Joseph, Vontaze Burfict, Mike Glennon, Benson Mayowa, Dwayne Harris, Josh Mauro, Kyle Wilber, Isaiah Crowell, Jordan Devey, Curtis Riley, Will Compton, Rod Smith, David Sharpe, Eric Tomlinson, Olsen Pierre, Dion Jordan and DeAndre Washington (the team has already extended Richie Incognito, Denzelle Good and Nevin Lawson).
Players who were on the roster last year and are set to become restricted (or exclusive-rights) free agents: Nathan Peterman, Ukeme Eligwe, Keelan Doss, Daniel Carlson, Trent Sieg, Makinton Dorleant, Jeremiah Valoaha, Nicholas Morrow, Dallin Leavitt, Cameron Hunt and DJ Killings.
Analysis: Obviously some really interesting names on this list. We’ll be doing a deeper dive on this group in the coming weeks, but I’d expect a few of these names to stick around: Jordan, Worley, Doss, Peterman, Carlson, Sieg and Compton for sure. The Raiders also recently inked running back Jalen Richard to an extension, so it will interesting to see if they do the same with Washington or if he gets a lucrative deal elsewhere. Beyond that? I think Joseph probably has more of a market elsewhere than he does here (but I’m sure they’d like him back at a backup price), while other guys like Leavitt, Morrow, Devey and Sharpe probably will hang around as outside-looking-in guys on non-guaranteed deals.
Currently, the Raiders hold two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19), three third-round picks (Nos. 80, 81, 92), one fourth-round pick (No. 111) and one seventh-round pick (No. 204).
Analysis: I find it hard to believe the Raiders pick from all of these spots — both given the lack of a second-round pick they may want and their lack of late-round selections for the scouting department to take their swings at. As of now, though, that’s quite an assortment of assets.
As for what they do with those picks? Wide receiver and linebacker are probably the team’s biggest needs, although it remains to be seen what they might do in free agency first. As of now, most people are penciling those two positions into the two first-round slots, with later rounds probably set aside for some defensive depth along the line and in the defensive backfield (and maybe another receiver).
As I mentioned, we’ll have all this covered in the coming weeks in far more depth, so follow us on social media to stay in the loop about when all that comes down the pipe!