2018 Free Agency: Names to Know and Possible Fits

Well, we now know that Raiders’ owner Mark Davis certainly has no issue opening his wallet.

I was one of many who didn’t think it was possible; to not only lure Jon Gruden back (for what he could command on the market), but also be on the hook for the remainder of Jack Del Rio’s contract. You know, the same contract that Davis prematurely awarded the now-unemployed Del Rio? Anyway…

With a move to Las Vegas on the horizon, does that also change the strategy when approaching free agency? The roster has to be stocked with talent if this team is going to make an impact; new city, fan base, etc. Will Reggie McKenzie (really just Jon Gruden, I imagine) have free reign to make it rain?

My thoughts on last year’s free agent’s can be read here, just as a point of reference.

For 2018’s free agent class, I tried to hit on at least one player for every position of need. But, at the end of the day, I just highlighted a handful of my personal favorite’s.

Positions and names are listed in no particular order below. The number in the parenthesis is the player’s age at the start of free agency per our friend’s at Rotoworld.

Running Back

The draft is loaded, but there are a few notable options in free agency if Jon Gruden and the boy’s prefer that route. Paying top dollar for a running back rarely seems to work out, so it may be wiser to lean toward the draft. Nonetheless:

Le’Veon Bell (26) — He’s the best back in football for my money (it’s obviously close between him and a healthy David Johnson), and he may have one foot out of the door in Pittsburgh. There’s also this:

Dion Lewis (27) — Coming off an impact year for the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots’, it’s hard to imagine Lewis walking out of the building. Then again, this is Belichick and the Patriots, and they’ll end up replacing him with some other player who will end up on this list in a couple of season’s anyway.

Carlos Hyde (27) — Injury history is notable. Saw 88 targets in 2017, which will at least intrigue someone like Jon Gruden. We can go full-narrative and talk about how Gruden plucked Charlie Garner from the 49er’s back in the day.

Jerick McKinnon (25) — This is the name that I’ve been circling. He wants to be the lead-back; I think he walks, and I think he makes a lot of sense for what Gruden wants to do out of the backfield. Many have and will question the size and three-down ability (listed at 5087, 209 coming out of school), but we know he’s a ridiculous athlete. Back to the hands: 51 balls for 400-plus yards and 3 touchdown’s in 2017. That’ll work.

Isaiah Crowell (25) — Hue Jackson completely wasted his potential, amongst other’s players (see: Duke Johnson). Age is attractive.

Wide Receiver

Arguably the most loaded position in free agency this year, and with good timing, as the Raiders’ have questions marks on the roster with Amari Cooper struggling, Michael Crabtree’s future up in the air, and Seth Roberts being Seth Roberts. I know everyone wants to pay Jarvis Landry. I didn’t include him below.

Sammy Watkins (24) — Expected to receive the franchise tag.

Allen Robinson (24) — Another favorite. I can’t see Jacksonville letting him test the waters, even off injury, and even with some other name’s stepping up in his absence. Robinson is just a different talent when healthy. Fun fact: Raiders “new” offensive coordinator was Jacksonville’s then-offensive coordinator when Allen Robinson went on his Pro Bowl run in 2015.

Jordan Matthews (25) — Remember him?

John “Smokey” Brown (27) — Similar to Carlos Hyde, the big question mark for Smokey will be his “injury” history. Not necessarily broken bones, but “the long-talked about sickle cell issues”. If he’s 100%, team’s could be looking at a steal of sorts, assuming they get the 2015 breakout player back.

Donte Moncrief (24) — If you’re circling McKinnon’s name in an attempt to be realistic, do the same with Moncrief’s. Ceiling is still there.

Cody Latimer (25) — Another intriguing height-weight-speed player who’s young enough to roll the dice on.

Tight End

I’m unsure if Jared Cook returns with the new staff in place, and outside of him, the position is just about empty for Oakland. The Raiders would do well to surround their $125 million dollar signal-caller with weapons at every spot.

Jimmy Graham (31) — He’s still a factor in the red zone (double-digit scores in 2017), but for the coin he’s going to command on the open market, I imagine, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Tyler Eifert (27) — Always banged up, but his ceiling is nearly as high as anyone’s when healthy. Obviously a big question mark.

Virgil Green (29) — You might be noticing a theme here: I tend to favor athletes. Age isn’t quite on Green’s side as it is with some of the other options, however.

Defensive Line

You could argue that this remains Oakland’s weakest position group.

Ezekiel Ansah (28) — Big payday incoming? Injury history to note.

Sheldon Richardson (27) — Does he leave Seattle after only one season, especially with both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril’s future’s up in the air?

Aaron Lynch (25) — Raiders’ need all the help they can get along the defensive line.

Tank Carradine (28) — See above.

Adrian Clayborn (29) — …you get the idea.


Raiders’ Twitter wants all the linebacker’s, and for good reason. I can’t remember the last time Oakland’s defense wasn’t suspect at the second level.

Preston Brown (25) — The next Bills’ free agent linebacker Reggie McKenzie can pass on?

Zach Brown (28) — No chance he gives this franchise another shot.

Avery Williamson (26) — Star against the run. Reduced to a two-down role in Tennessee this season.

Tahir Whitehead (27) — Moved back outside in 2017; made strides in coverage at the same time, too. An obvious upgrade for Oakland.


Oakland’s secondary was historically bad in 2017, and it starts with cornerback. Soon-to-be sophomore Gareon Conley will be back, and fully healthy (we hope), but that should not stop the Raiders from adding (or drafting) more talent.

Trumaine Johnson (28) — Rams’ paid a decent chunk of change via the franchise tag for Johnson’s services. Current Raiders’ cornerback Sean Smith has an inch or so on Trumaine Johnson, but they’re built similarly.

Bashaud Breeland (26) — Redskins’ extended Quinton Dunbar, which could signal Breeland’s exit. Had 19 passes defensed in 2017.

Malcolm Butler (28) — The Super Bowl hero himself. Looks and feels like a prime candidate to get overpaid this offseason. Wouldn’t surprise if the Raiders’ raised their hand.

Rashaan Melvin (28) — Ended his season on injured reserve, and might still get paid (overpaid). Guess that’s what happens when you “put the clamps” on the league’s best receiver?

Kyle Fuller (26) — Quietly strung together a solid season; looked improved across the board. Will he stay or will he go?

Vontae Davis (29) — Groin injury was an issue, and his season ended with surgery back in November. Former two-time Pro Bowler who, even with “age concerns”, can still contribute (assuming health isn’t an issue post-surgery).

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


11 thoughts on “2018 Free Agency: Names to Know and Possible Fits

  1. It’s still Reggie calling the shots as far as personnel is concerned. If it isn’t RM, then theres literally no reason to pay him. That’s his job. I get that everyone wants to give Gruden all the credit for everything that happens from here on out, but the truth is RM has been building this team for years, and they can be a very good team bc of that. That’s why MD kept him around, he knows Reggie is good at bringing in talent. So, why give the keys to Gruden and then still employ RM? Doesn’t make sense.

  2. Good article. I think Gruden will definitely add a pass catching RB to benefit Carr’s strenght and game. That also includes a couple of solid pass catching WR and a burner like James Jett mode. Moncrief could fit that role.

    If the slot was so great for Cooper vs the Chiefs why didnt we continue to use him that way??

    Lets see if any team behind the Raiders are desperate enough to trade up for their QB. I think their are two other solid LB options even if we move back and gain additional picks. Those extra six round compensartory picks can be combined to zoom in, on our targeted rookies.

  3. Most of these players are guys I can’t see Davis spending the money it would take to sign them . I see he and Reggie trying to plug holes with draft picks and banking on the 2016 & 2017 draft picks getting better .

  4. I hope Raiders go free agency for corner, d-line, or reciever, 1 or 2 of those three. The rest of the unfilled needs will probably be filled in the draft: CB, LB, DL, RB, WR.

    I think we’ll get a corner in both free agency and the draft.

  5. I love when fans say “We” lol. There is no we when it comes to the NFL you are just a customer and your only worth to them is how much of your money THEY can get their hands on

  6. My opinion for what it’s worth is the raiders need a strong talented interior D-lineman to help free Mack and a solid middle LB in free agency. Then draft a WR, CB, OT, and a power RB. That would put the raiders in the playoffs and possibly in the super bowl. I truly believe the current roster is a playoff caliber team but lacks consistency

  7. To Jesse Gardner, I agree with most of your post BUT Gruden will have 70% of say who we bring in & Reggie about 30%, that’s the only reason Gruden is here, Reggie will continue to do his job as usual but Gruden will have the last word on any player coming in, as for the draft Gruden does more work studying players than Reggie or his Brother & his crew big time, so Reggie will be involved as usual with the draft but believe me Jessie it will be Gruden who makes the last decision, Reggie cannot draft players that HE thinks Gruden can use, it will be all Gruden’s hard work to bring in who he thinks will help the team, no more Ward or Calhoun’s in the 3rd & 4th rounds to sit the bench for 3 years & not help the team, in fact they probably would have been available in the 6th & 7th rounds, that draft hurt alittle,

  8. Gruden isn’t God. They already said at Gruden’s press Confrence that they will work together & did that well during there time on GB together but that Reggie would get last word since he’s in charge of the salary cap. All coaches get input based on what the position coach needs but GM & owner make final say as it should be. Gruden the GM in TB was horrible Destroyed a championship roster & was fired. Reggie has been great getting us out of cap he’ll & winning excutetive of the yr. Too many of you act like every GM hits on every pick every draft when they took coaches input also. Stop it with the Reggie bashing you Couch GM draft wizards who need to apply for the job.

  9. Nice synopsis, but please, please! learn the proper use of the apostrophe. It drives me crazy when you’re always using the possessive instead of he plural. When you’re writing about the players no apostrophe is necessary. When writing about a specific player’s situation it is necessary. Why is this so tough to grasp?

  10. A grammar nazi Raider fan? Surprising! What’s not surprising? Gruden will draft a fullback early. Gruden loves him some FB. Ritchie, Alstott, will Olawale be next?

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