2019 Offseason: Free Agent Targets

Every offseason, the gang over at Rotoworld keep a super-handy “free agent tracker” updated throughout the offseason. If you want to know what player goes where and what they were paid, this is one-stop shopping; highly recommend everyone bookmark as I’m sure you’ll reference several times throughout the offseason months.

Now, on to the business at hand: Jon Gruden’s Raiders need help. They need help at literally (almost) every position on the roster. This is not up for debate.

Gruden, credit where it’s due I suppose, has set himself up nicely heading into this offseason. In addition to three (3) first-round draft selections, the Raiders also have a decent amount of cash to play with (fifth-most, per Over The Cap) — with more on the way, one could assume, with additional roster cuts and/or contract restructures still to come.

Working off of Rotoworld’s tracker, let’s go position-by-position and figure out what name or names may fit.

Running Back

There is plenty of discussion and analysis on the timeline regarding the running back position in general, whether they matter or not, etc. We don’t have to go down that rabbit hole, but it is important to keep value in mind. Ideally, the Raiders add a running back in the early-mid rounds of the draft. You can find starters there. It wouldn’t surprise if Gruden made a splash in free agency, however, given his offensive mindset. Twitter would certainly be entertaining. Le’Veon Bell is the name at the top of the list. Only 27, he sat out all last season in hopes of eventually being paid what he believes he’s worth. I’m all for that, and wish him the best. I imagine his campaign took a notable hit when the Chiefs proceeded to trot out Damien Williams in Kareem Hunt‘s absence and the Rams split work between Todd Gurley and free agent off-the-street C.J. Anderson. There are other names to focus in on if you’re not ready to pay-up for Bell’s services. Tevin Coleman will probably see a Jerick McKinnon-type deal as a back with a similar skill set. The aforementioned Hunt is the ultimate “wildcard” given his off-field issues and high-end production on the field. I think he gets resigned, somewhere, as opposed to blackballed by the league. The other tier are the pass-catching and/or “satellite backs”: Ty Montgomery, Buck Allen, and Ameer Abdullah, amongst others. I’m not sure Gruden looks at this group as I assume he just moves forward with Jalen Richard in that same role.

Player to pay: Spencer Ware, Chiefs

Ware has been buried in Kansas City for the most part, but whenever called on, he’s been effective and deserves a shot at long-term work as a feature back. Still only 27, the 5-10, 220-something runner is able to get it done through the air, tallying 42 receptions in 2016. PFF has graded him favorably throughout his career, and he sits toward the top of their free agent rankings as well.

Wide Receiver

Arguably the Raiders’ weakest position heading into this year’s offseason. I detailed all those needs over here, and I think you can make the argument that upgrading the wideout spots is the most critical given Derek Carr’s inconsistent play at times last season. He needs support. Devin Funchess is only 24, and has flashed at times when given the volume in Carolina. He’s also been plagued by drops and overall sporadic play. A “wise” investment given the age, but it’d be wiser to turn to the draft and allocate funds elsewhere in free agency. Jamison Crowder is 25-years old, and should return to Washington where injuries have temporarily derailed what appeared to be a promising young career. He had 99 and 103 targets in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Donte Moncrief got paid and headed to Jacksonville last year, but that offense fell apart under Blake Bortles. I’d be interested in investing at a more reasonable number. Another one-year “prove it” deal, perhaps. Golden Tate was moved to Philadelphia during the season, and should still command notable cash as a high-end WR2. John “Smokey” Brown looked reborn in Baltimore with Joe Flacco on the controls. The story quickly changed when signal-callers did. Brown’s looking at 30, and would be a fine option if you miss out on Crowder or someone like Adam Humphries, the latter coming off a career year in Tampa Bay. Carlos Henderson and Cody Latimer were one-time draft darlings who have failed to catch on in the league at this point. At 24 and 26 respectively, they’re fliers at best.

Player to pay: Tyrell Williams, Chargers

The Chargers are quietly loaded, and notably so as far as pass-catchers go. Williams was playing second fiddle to Keenan Allen, they invested early in Clemson product Mike Williams, and have Hunter Henry coming back off injury. Williams has made it clear that he wants to be a WR1, and I think that’s certainly his ceiling. He’s a big play waiting to happen, as he’s demonstrated during his time with Phil Rivers and the second Los Angeles team. With that big talk comes a big pay day, I’m sure. PFF sees him cashing in this offseason, something that may keep Oakland away given all their needs on both sides of the ball. At only 27, with his blend of height-weight-speed, someone is going to open their wallet. Will it be Gruden?

Tight End

Jared Cook, who took over as the teams most impactful player on offense post-Marshawn Lynch, turns 32 this year. Given the numbers he put up during his “breakout season”, it would be reasonable to think someone is going to pay for his services next year. We know Gruden loves those seasoned veterans, so it may very well be Oakland. I’m passing, personally. This free agent class doesn’t really do it for me either. Tyler Eifert has the talent to be a top-five player at the position but his body can’t hold up. Pass. C.J. Uzomah looked serviceable filling in for Eifert, but he’s not a player I’d go out of my way for. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has not had the start to his career that he envisioned, I’m sure, dotted with off-field and personal story-lines. He’s someone I personally root for, given his growth, but much like Uzomah, not a player I’m jumping on the table for.

Player to pay: Just draft one.

2019’s tight end class looks loaded. It won’t match 2017 athletically, but the talent is there and some of these mid-late round prospects will offer similar upside. Now’s the time to get younger and more talented at the position:

Offensive Tackle

Assistant General Manager Tom Cable invested two early-round selection at tackle last year. That probably means nothing to him, however, if his time in Seattle is any indication. It’s anyone’s guess how Cable and Gruden manage this group going forward. What we all know is how critical protection is up front for Carr. My guess is the Raiders continue to roll with Kolton Miller at left tackle and Brandon Parker at right tackle while making some late-round investments in the draft or signing a body in free agency (pick a name toward the bottom of the list).

Player to pay: Who cares, just fire Cable.

Interior Offensive Line

Kelechi Osemele saw his play decline in 2018. I’d connect the dots for you here but I’m sure you know where I’m going. Gabe Jackson has been up-and-down since getting paid. All-world center Rodney Hudson was the best player on the Raiders’ roster last year, regardless of position.

Player to pay: Seriously, how did Cable manage to land another job after the Seahawks let him walk?

Edge Defender

In addition to a strong draft class, the free agent group is stocked with young, game-breaking talent. Given the position and impact these players have, coupled with their age, it’s very rare that we see them hit the open market. Ignore whatever happened with Khalil Mack last year. DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, and Frank Clark all should be paid by their current clubs, and paid a lot. The next “tier” consisting of names like Dee Ford, Preston Smith, Trey Flowers, Za’Darius Smith, Ezekiel Ansah and Brandon Grahamn all figure to get paid, but I’d increase their chances of seeing that money with another team’s logo on the check this offseason. Quarterback pressure has been nonexistent for the Raiders. I’d be surprised if Gruden and them don’t attempt to make that right through both the draft and free agency.

Player to pay: Za’Darius Smith, Ravens.

Smith has improved steadily every season since entering the league, and turned it on at the right time in 2018 given his free agent status. PFF sees him as an “underrated” name on the market. As shared, Smith won’t be a force against the run, but he can get after the quarterback — we can start there.

Interior Defensive Line

The Raiders are fond of Mo Hurst and P.J. Hall, we’re told. Hall was over-drafted whereas Hurst was a top-10 talent that slipped due to “medical concerns”. Oakland probably rolls with what they have, and focuses on other positions via free agency. Depending how the board breaks, I could see an early investment in a player like Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver. Adding either player to pair with Hurst would immediately give Oakland one of the more dominant interiors across the league.

Player to pay: Hope that Williams falls to 4, and/or consider Oliver.


Linebacker has been a question mark for the Raiders forever, it seems. There are a few names to get excited about in the draft, but I’m more interested in the offerings through free agency. It’s not a terribly deep group, but there are some talented players that could be had at favorable deals. Jordan Hicks is just 26 and PFF’s top-rated free agent linebacker. I don’t think Eagles fans necessarily agree that with valuation, given the injury history and his play and impact post-injury. I’m in if the price is right. C.J. Mosley will probably be the most recognizable and popular name, and the player that could cash-out. Price may once again be prohibitive for the Raiders, but there’s no questioning Mosley’s impact on the field. Also 26, he’s worth the investment. Good bet that Baltimore feels the same way. Kwon Alexander is, somehow, only 24. It’s just a matter of time before he puts it all together. Denzel Perryman rounds out the top-shelf names at inside backer. Perryman is coming off injury, and a discount may follow. On the outside, 27-year old Anthony Barr is a popular name on Raiders Twitter already given his ability on coverage. K.J. Wright is one of the most consistent players at his position. He turns 30 in July. It’ll be interesting to see what market develops for him outside of Seattle and potentially out from Bobby Wagner’s shadow.

Player to pay: Kwon Alexander, Buccaneers.

Coming off the knee injury, price will obviously be important. When healthy, the young, athletic linebacker can make an impact all over the field. Assuming the injury gets put behind him, at only 24, his ceiling remains very high, and would fill a big hole for the Raiders at the second level.


Outside of maybe Ronald Darby, 25, coming off injury, this group is one I’m passing over altogether.

Player to pay: No thanks, draft please.


To the surprise of nobody, the safety spot is littered with uncertainty in Oakland. I don’t want to spend anymore time talking about Reggie Nelson, so let’s move on to the part where we present options for improvement. I see three elite players at the top of the market. Age and injury aside, there are zero questions about Earl Thomas. Turning 30 in May, Thomas is still the type of player you chase and break the bank for. While he isn’t the same 20-something ascending in Seattle, he’s still a game-changer at one of the most important spots on defense. Landon Collins, 25, stands out in the box, the same position Karl Joseph is currently slotted in. This staff hasn’t exactly put their stamp of approval on Joseph, so if a change were to happen, Collins should be considered. That’s obviously a lot easier said then done, as PFF sees a possible 5-year, $57.5 million deal on the horizon. Another 25-year old, Adrian Amos is just getting started. His versatility and big-play ability will be coveted by many front offices. He was a standout on a dominant Bears defense.

Player to pay: Earl Thomas, Seattle.

I passed at the chance of giving the Raiders Mosley at linebacker for reality’s sake. Admittedly, signing Thomas probably isn’t very high on the “realistic scale”, either. Money will need to be there, and I’m sure Thomas will have his choices as far as landing spots are concerned (plural), and will want to go to a winner or at the very least a team on the rise. You can’t say either of those things for Gruden’s Raiders at the moment. Anyway, if I had to put one name at the top of a “wish list” this offseason, it would obviously be Thomas – if only for his attitude and leadership abilities.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive