Face the facts, Raider Nation, the 2022-23 season is dead. If the Silver and Black win out and get some help, there’s a whisper of a chance that they make it to the playoffs, but following a Thursday Night Football loss to the Los Angeles Rams practice squad, I think we’ve all seen enough, these Raiders aren’t contending for anything but draft positioning.
Returning Raiders: Who Should Be Back in Black Next Season?
The Obvious Ones
Some of these guys are gimmes. Kolton Miller, Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Maxx Crosby, Daniel Carlson, AJ Cole, Trent Sieg (long-snappers matter), and Nate Hobbs are almost locks. Barring a crazy off-season trade or retirement, all of these guys will be suiting up with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023.
What is there to say about Chandler Jones that hasn’t already been said? While there’s no question he’s been disruptive at times for the Raiders, he has completely failed to be the complementary pass rusher that the Raiders signed him to be. Three of his three and a half sacks came in one game, and he has done little to take pressure off of Maxx Crosby. However, his contract has pretty much guaranteed him a roster spot next season.
The Free Agents
There are some Raiders that we would like to keep, but may have played their way out of the team’s price range. Running back Josh Jacobs currently leads the NFL in rushing yards and has a 200 yard cushion over the next best guy. However, the Raiders did not pick up his fifth-year option this off-season, and barring the franchise tag, he’ll likely want to test free agency. The Raiders would love to bring Jacobs back, but as they’re attempting to build a contender, they might not be comfortable giving up the dough to keep 28 in Sin City.
Denzel Perryman has been a run-stuff machine for the Raiders, and it would be a real tragedy to see him leave the team this off-season. You have to believe that the team will at least attempt to retain his services. Rock Ya-Sin and Mack Hollins were also quality additions in the off-season, and I would be surprised to see the team let either player go without at least entering into negotiations. With Darren Waller’s frequent injuries, tight end Foster Moreau has stepped up and had his moments over the last two years. It feels like he hasn’t quite fulfilled his potential with the Raiders, and it would be nice to see him back for a few more seasons.
Now here are some really interesting players who should have an opportunity to stay with the team, but might be upgraded in the off-season. Darren Waller was Derek Carr’s favorite target two seasons ago, and proved to be one of the more dynamic players in the league, but he can’t stay healthy. After a monster 2020 season, Waller has missed as many games as he’s played (15) and barely been an asset when healthy, averaging about five catches for 50 yards in his appearances. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him traded this off-season.
Pretty much everyone on the offensive line outside of Miller is on notice. The team has fielded 10 different offensive linemen this season, experiencing turnover at essentially every position. Should the Raiders address the offensive line this Summer, any one of those guys could be replaced.
After an impressive rookie campaign, Trevon Moehrig has struggled in Patrick Graham’s scheme. He’s still young, and there’s a tough learning curve for DBs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders went in another direction next season.
This one is the hardest to gauge. Rumors have had the Raiders moving on from Derek Carr for every season dating back to 2017, and they’ve stood pat to this point. Because of their brief winning streak, the Raiders are no longer in position to draft a Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Will Levis, so a replacement would likely have to come from free agency. Without entertaining the likes of Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold, there’s really only one name that will have the talking heads buzzing, and it’s someone Josh McDaniels knows quite well.
If you believe Dana White and Rob Gronkowski, the Las Vegas Raiders had essentially come to terms with Tom Brady two seasons ago before Jon Gruden said no and he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers instead. If the Raiders aren’t in position to draft the quarterback of the future and they do plan to move on from Derek Carr, there’s bound to be some whispers about TB12 enjoying post-divorce life like most deadbeat dads, on the strip in Vegas.
If the Raiders don’t win the Brady sweepstakes, as much as it might pain some to read, Derek Carr is probably the quarterback again next season. If they don’t draft someone, he’s better than the other free agents hitting the market. It’s really tough to tell since we haven’t seen what a real off-season under McDaniels and Ziegler looks like, but don’t be surprised if the 2023 version of the Raiders, at least on paper, looks a lot like what we’ve seen so far in 2022.