The Las Vegas Raiders have shown they want to play in a strong AFC West with the signing of Chandler Jones and the blockbuster deal for Davante Adams. What chances does the team from Sin City have for the playoffs – and what are the construction sites in the squad?
The first major domino to fall in the entire league this offseason was Russell Wilson’s replacement for the Denver Broncos.
For a package of two first-round picks plus more picks and more players, the Broncos finally secured the franchise quarterback at Wilson that Mile High City had been missing since Peyton Manning’s days. In free agency, Randy Gregory, a strong pass-rusher, was hired to go on a quarterback hunt against Bradley Chubb.
The Chargers also stepped up early in the offseason, swapping second- and sixth-round picks for the Chicago Bears for Khalil Mack, who along with Joey Bosa will form what may be the league’s most dangerous pass-rush duo.
In addition, the Bolts picked up what is reportedly the best cornerback on the market, in JC Jackson and were able to close another hole in the row. Add to that the extension with wide receiver Mike Williams and several reinforcements in the defensive line, and the Chargers have one of the best lists in the league on paper.
The Kansas City Chiefs must regroup after the departure of Tyreek Hills. The restart began with the wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling – and suddenly a lot of wooden ammunition. Security Justin Reid must help replace bully Mathieu.
Raiders: “Do anything to win”
Looking at the greatly improved AFC West, the Raiders looked like the team with the worst list in the division on paper, despite reaching the playoffs last season.
The new Raiders head coach, Josh McDaniels, announced at his first press conference in the office: “We will do whatever it takes on and off the field to win.”
How serious the Raiders were with that, they have impressively demonstrated in the previous offseason. First, Chandler Jones, one of the best pass rushers in the league, was signed, then Davante Adams, probably the best wide receiver in the entire NFL, was traded to Vegas.
So it was clear: the Raiders will not hide in AFC West, but will try to win it.
AFC West: The Raiders are also rising
The Raiders’ first big move this offseason was to renew defensive back Maxx Crosby. In 2019, the Raiders selected the pass-rush specialist in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, rewarding him with a new four-year draft and up to $ 98.98 million after 25 sacks in his first three seasons and a 2021 Second Team All Pro Award Dollar.
The fact that the Raiders in no way play with the idea of refueling due to the strong competition within the division became clear most recently when they signed Chandler Jones, one of the biggest names in the market for free agents. Jones has collected 107.5 sacks since joining the league in 2012 – no other player’s sacks in that time.
The Raiders then traded defensive Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts. He had played a strong season last year, but Jones’ commitment made him indispensable, and his cap hit of 13 million made him too expensive in the end.
Adams and Carr fulfill ‘a dream’
In return, Raiders cornerback Rock Ya-Sin received from the Colts, filling a large gap in the row. Casey Hayward had occupied this last year, but during a schematic change also defensively you will need other cornerback types.
Ya-Sin had certainly had some ups and downs in his first three years, but he is at least a solid starter in a position where the Raiders are thin. He also has a cap hit of just 2.5 million this season, giving the Raiders enough cap space to take one of the biggest trades in years.
In return for the selection of the first and second rounds of the upcoming draft, Raiders snatched Davante Adams, arguably the best receiver in the league and quarterback Derek Carr’s former college teammate.
“For me and Derek Carr, playing together again at one point was something we had our eyes on,” Adams explained at his first Silver and Black press conference. “It’s a dream to be a raider now.”
The Raiders suddenly have a strong arsenal of weapons
“The turning point for me came when I sat down and asked myself what would be best for me and my family,” said the five-time Pro Bowler, who grew up as a Raiders fan near the Oakland Coliseum Green Bay. Adams is now significantly closer to his family, which has played a big role for him.
If you take a look at the skill positions in the Raiders ‘attack, you can definitely see the potential in McDaniels’ attack being among the best in the league.
Adams is again a solid # 1 receiver, Hunter Renfrow is a slot weapon, and Darren Waller is one of the NFL’s best tight ends. There’s also a solid running back tandem by Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, plus Derek Carr, who set the career-best 4,804 passing yards last season.
Davante Adams compares Raiders’ attack to Chiefs
“I talked to Josh McDaniels and said it’s similar to Chiefs’ attacking situation,” Adams said. “You can double up on Tyreek Hill, but then Travis Kelce goes after 200 yards. Or you double up on Kelce and then you know the yards go to Tyreek.”
Adams is right – even though the Chiefs have switched Hill to Miami now – opposing teams will most likely try to double down on either him or Waller, which will mean more room for the other.
According to Matt Harmon from Yahoo Sport no other player has been branded by two defenders as often in the last eight years as Adams was last season. Waller should therefore benefit greatly from Adams’ arrival, and that will also open up additional space for Renfrow. Last year, the slot receiver caught balls in 1,000 yards, scored 9 touchdowns and was selected for the Pro Bowl.
“People say I could teach Hunter a lot, but I think – maybe he can teach me a few things,” Adams said of his new teammate.