Raiders offseason
After a rough 8-8 season, the Raiders must regroup and make some big roster changes. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The new Las Vegas Raiders could not have had a more disappointing start in their new city. Gruden’s squad showed promise to start the year with an impressive win against Kansas City, going 6-2 to start the year. Then Las Vegas absolutely fell apart ending the season 2-6, missing the playoffs, and getting blown out multiple times. Giving up the most points in the back half of the year, the defense will be a focus this Raiders offseason.

Roster Needs: EDGE, LB, S, CB, IOL, WR

Offense

Raiders offseason
After averaging a poor 3.9 yards per carry, the Raiders must fix offensive line issues for star running back Josh Jacobs. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The offense was not as bad as the Raiders’ record indicates. Derek Carr was accurate and effective. He threw for the 11th most yards in the league with 4,103. His percentage of on-target throws was 78.9%, good for 9th best among quarterbacks.

The main issue was the offensive line. Going into the season there were high hopes for the group, but injuries and overall issues dismantled the line as the season went on. Richie Incognito played two games before a season-ending foot injury. An IV mishap and an ankle injury limited star tackle Trent Brown to just five games in 2020. Mike Mayock will have to decide in the coming weeks if Brown will remain on the team, as cutting him will free up $14 million in cap space.

If the line can remain healthy, the only position Vegas needs to worry about is who will fill the hole left by Incognito at guard. They currently have $2 million in cap after cutting Tyrell Williams. Marcus Mariota and Lamarcus Joyner are prime cut candidates that would ultimately give the Raiders $13 million in free cap space. While they have more pressing needs on the opposite side of the ball, some money invested into guard would be smart to vault their offensive line to the top of the league like it was in 2019.

Mayock has shown his preference in bringing in veteran, proven offensive lineman to pay immediate dividends. Lane Taylor or J.R. Sweezy are past their primes but are still proven pass protectors and can create running lanes for Josh Jacobs. A few million dollars per year would be an ideal contract for both sides.

The receiving corps of Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, and Bryan Edwards is extremely young and very unproven. GM Mike Mayock is reportedly interested in star slot receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. A proven commodity like Smith-Schuster would bring a strong presence over the middle of the field that the Raiders otherwise lack. A presence in the run game and the ability to find holes in zone coverage could help Carr take the next step as a quarterback.

It should be noted that if no other receiver is signed, free agent Nelson Agholor may be brought back despite issues with the team. Agholor surprised in Vegas, becoming their leading receiver (considering Waller is a tight end) amassing 896 yards and 8 touchdowns. His chemistry with Carr was evident on deep balls, and his ability to separate is something Gruden will want to retain.

Defense

Raiders offseason
Finding an edge rusher opposite of standout Maxx Crosby is a must this Raiders offseason.(Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

The defensive side of the ball is where a lot of resources will be poured into during the Raiders offseason. The most prominent need is along the edge as the Raiders struggled to get after opposing quarterbacks generating the 4th least sacks in the league with 21. Maxx Crosby is the only disruptor along the edge generating 17 sacks in his first two seasons. Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, and Carl Nassib are all rotational rushers and should be replaced.

Mayock and Gruden should be willing to shell out a decent portion of their cap space to bolster the edge position. Carl Lawson from the Bengals broke out in 2020, pressuring the quarterback 59 times on limited rush snaps. The 25-year-old’s size and athleticism will be selling points to a potential payday. Lawson across from Crosby along with Clelin Ferrell on the interior will form a young group that can dominate the trenches.

As for the linebacking corps, Corey Littleton has been an absolute bust since joining the Raiders in free agency. Littleton’s incredible play for the Rams completely dissipated in 2020. After being completely incapable of stopping the run, a true run-stuffer at linebacker should be a focus for Vegas. The draft features top-tier linebacking prospects such as Micah Parsons, Zaven Collins, and Nick Bolton. Parsons may be too good of an athlete to drop to 17 where the Raiders are picking. But, any of those prospects are the type of gritty players Gruden loves to coach.

The aging KJ Wright from Seattle may be a target if free agency is the way to go. The 31-year-old showed no signs of decline last season, as he remained one of the best coverage linebackers. His knowledge of the game allows him to sniff out run plays better than most at the position. There are many options, but there must be a new face added to the linebacking group this Raiders offseason.

Raiders offseason
2019 first-round pick Johnathan Abram has struggled with coverage and with his health. A new face at the safety position is a must this offseason. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The safety position is the next biggest need for the Raiders offseason. Former first-round pick, Johnathan Abram has struggled with injuries, and Lamarcus Joyner will surely be cut. When healthy Abram has truly been a liability in coverage. The number of quality safeties available in free agency will be too good for Vegas to pass up. Anthony Harris has developed into one of the best safeties in the NFL in Minnesota. Incredible coverage traits and route recognition make him an ideal fit in Vegas.

Saints safety, Marcus Williams will also hit the open market. Since coming into the league in 2017, Williams has been an instant difference-maker for the New Orleans defense. He has forced the highest incompletion rate since entering the league as well as being a playmaker in the run game.

And the porous secondary will not be completely fixed unless cornerback is addressed. First-round selection Damon Arnette was a questionable pick at the time, and his play proved as such. Per PFF, Arnette ranked at the near bottom in coverage compared to all other cornerbacks. Even if Arnette can develop into a better player, Nevin Lawson showed zero signs of promise as well. The nearly 30-year-old boundary corner is truly abysmal in coverage as well. Forcing the 3rd least turnovers with 15, Vegas needs defensive backs who can jump routes and pick off the pass.

New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will want a corner who excels in zone coverage to run his vaunted cover 3 scheme. Richard Sherman has been one of the top zone cornerbacks in the league for the past decade. The 32-year-old vet would bring a different presence to a cornerback group that consists of players entering their second and third seasons. Sherman may lack the long speed to play man, but his quickness and instincts have kept him at the top of his game in San Francisco. Even long-time Raiders fan, Damian Lillard, supports the potential addition of Sherman this Raiders offseason.