2020 Offseason: Initial Thoughts on the Raiders’ “First Wave” of Free Agency

We’ll keep this one as short and sweet as we can. News and rumors are pouring in hot and heavy as they often do at the “start” of free agency (or the “legal tampering period”, whatever we want to refer to it as).

Overall, it’s hard not to see the vision and approve of the approach and many of the signings thus far. The Raiders had several holes on their roster last year, many of which on the defensive-side of the ball. Now, on paper anyway, things are trending in the right direction. Let’s review:

LB Nick Kwiatkoski

A welcomed sight for many, if not all, when a linebacker was the first position addressed this offseason. Kwiatkoski, the former Bear and fourth-round selection, only saw action in 8 games in 2019, but clearly made an impression and was on the radar of at least Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. He’ll man the middle for the Raiders moving forward, we’re told, and at only 26-years old (27 in May), has a chance to continue his growth and ascent.

mark schlereth on Twitter

The @ChicagoBears LB #Kwiatkoski dispensed Justice last week! Fun to watch https://t.co/HMSr1NRfPe

QB Marcus Mariota

A “backup-plus”, given the starting experience. Gruden and Mayock, on our televisions at the time, had some interesting commentary regarding Mariota when he was drafted. I’ll link that clip below. I know the starts in Tennessee weren’t always stellar, and the inconsistency and eventual benching is all many will remember, but perhaps the “change of scenery” narrative applies here? We’ll see (all my obvious bias aside; I’ll be a Mariota fan forever). Like the signing from a pure depth and competition-standpoint regardless.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Good time to throw this clip back on the timeline: Both Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden with some thoughts on QB Marcus Mariota, the prospect. https://t.co/82T8E9nate

LB Cory Littleton

The “big fish” thus far, certainly. Raiders were outbid on CB Byron Jones so they needed Littleton in the worst way. As alluded to earlier, few teams, if any, had less talent to work with on defense. In Littleton, the Raiders stay young at the position (like Kwiatkoski, another 26-year old player) who particularly excels in coverage. Smart money, too. Home run signing all around.

PFF on Twitter

One of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL.” @PFF_Steve on the Raiders signing LB Cory Littleton https://t.co/IlGni2XHpe

TE Jason Witten


DT Maliek Collins

The Raiders-Cowboys pipeline remains open. Collins, much like the previously discussed signings, is young (turns only 25 in April). We can start there; just scratching the surface. Three-down player that can man the middle and likely will push someone like P.J. Hall, or whomever the Raiders were relying on prior. 48 total pressures in 2019, per PFF. Adding young talent at important positions is, actually, a good thing.

S Jeff Heath

Another former Cowboy; special teamer who has a history of making plays all over the field. Some frustrating moments, as the timeline will tell you, but again, looking at a largely inconsequential signing investment-wise, and a player that the staff is familiar with; your classic Gruden Grinder. Wonder what this means for fellow Grinder, Erik Harris?

DE Carl Nassib

Pass rush got a little deeper with the addition of yet another Gruden Grinder, if you could believe it. 12.5 sacks over the last two seasons. We know how badly this team needs help getting to the quarterback, and while Nassib isn’t a consistent star, adding depth certainly doesn’t hurt. No arguments here.

What’s next? Who’s still out there? I got you:

CB Chris Harris Jr. is still available; Raiders were linked to him early and often. He’s still high on my list. Trading for CB Darius Slay may trump the Harris deal, for me, although that would require forking over some trade compensation. For a third-round selection, though, it would be a no-brainer.

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CB Mackensie Alexander is another option that was highly-touted by the “draft community” and will surely come much cheaper than Harris Jr. PFF grades him favorably, and he feels somewhat overlooked and underrated at the moment. Name to monitor.

Both Robby Anderson and Emmanuel Sanders remain available as of this writing; very little buzz about either at this point. If I’m the Raiders, and the money’s right, I’d be interested. Otherwise, take advantage of a strong wide receiver draft class, and snag two early-round options there.

If the Raiders want to continue addressing the linebacker spot, both Nick Vigil and Jatavis Brown are a pair of 26-year old players that could work on the outside. I’d prioritize the former over the latter.

Lastly, at safety, the Raiders were rumored to be in on Damarious Randall at one point. Karl Joseph is the familiar name, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s brought back if there’s little-to-no other interest elsewhere.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


3 thoughts on “2020 Offseason: Initial Thoughts on the Raiders’ “First Wave” of Free Agency

  1. Nice piece. Ideally get at least a CB and LB in FA to allow us to take BPA in the draft. Would like a RB compliment to JJ and another WR LB and CB too.

  2. Joseph signed with Cleveland … I believe … So maybe we keep Harris … great special teamer … and capable of playing any secondary position in a pinch … and we know there is always going to be a pinch … As coach Glanville once said this is the NFL (Note for long) … Go Raiders !

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