Raiders

Raiders have tough choices ahead with players headed for NFL free agency

Raiders

The Raiders will have a busy offseason with significant roster turnover. That’s the Jon Gruden way, after all, especially while reconstructing this roster after a major teardown in 2018.

We’ve discussed the team’s biggest offseason needs, the possibility of some high-profile cuts and some early ideas on free-agent targets.

The Raiders have to make decisions on their own players with expiring contracts.

They’ve already retained one this week, signing interior lineman Denzelle Good to a one-year contract.

Many others, however, won’t be heading to Vegas. The Raiders have 19 players headed for unrestricted free agency in March, and obviously won’t keep them all. Some will be allowed to walk out the front door. Others will sign contracts the Silver and Black weren’t willing to match. A few should remain with the Raiders.

Open-market value obviously weighs heavily on these decisions, but we can still take an early look at soon-to-be free agents with the highest profiles and whether the Raiders should chase hard or simply let them leave:

CB Daryl Worley: Coaches like Worley’s toughness and versatility and appreciated his willingness to move around the secondary in an attempt to shore up weak spots. Worley is a serviceable outside cornerback, but the Silver and Black should look for a better long-term solution. The Raiders could still re-sign him as a bridge cornerback while developing Isaiah Johnson, though Worley might not like that. He’s looking for the biggest financial commitment, which likely will be found somewhere else.
My take: Consider keeping him on a shorter-term deal, but don’t get into a bidding war. Under those circumstances, I bet he bounces. 

 

S Karl Joseph: The Raiders could’ve locked Joseph up for 2020 but declined his fifth-year option. That will put him on the market this spring in a weird place. Joseph played some of his best football last year, providing a steady, physical presence in the back while working with Erik Harris. He’s also coming off a foot injury that ended his season early and required surgery. That might depress his market value, though he’s expected to make a full recovery. Joseph would pair well with Johnathan Abram in the back and might not be overly expensive. The Raiders also could move Lamarcus Joyner to safety or acquire another one. Erik Harris already is under contract as excellent depth, negating the need to bring Joseph back.
My take: Re-sign him, focus draft assets on other positions. (P.S. I’m not sure the Raiders agree)

LB Vontaze Burfict: The Raiders defended Burfict at every turn after he was suspended for the final 12 games of the 2019 season after an illegal hit against Indianapolis that got him ejected. A major suspension, maybe even an outright ban, is possible if he makes a similar mistake. I still think the Raiders re-sign Burfict despite those facts. Paul Guenther loves him as a friend and field general but obviously will have a quality Plan B in the middle.
My take: I believe Burfict comes back.

RB Jalen Richard: The third-down back saw fewer carries than he is accustomed used to but is a quality receiver and an excellent pass protector. He’s a tougher runner inside than you’d think and is a big play waiting to happen. Josh Jacobs might be the featured back, but Richard’s an important part of that position group.
My take: Re-sign him right away.

KR/PR Dwayne Harris: Jon Gruden loves Harris, but the lightning-quick special teams standout hurt the Raiders more than he helped in 2019. He was unavailable most of the year and will be 33 next season. The Raiders need to find a new return man.
My take: Let him walk.

[RELATED: Five key offseason questions Raiders brass must answer]

DE Benson Mayowa: The veteran was a situational pass rusher who had a bunch of sacks early and faded late. His career-high seven sacks should provide a solid payday, and he’s going to whichever team is the highest bidder. That team won’t be the Raiders.
My take: Mayowa’s on the move.

 

LB Will Compton: The veteran was pondering retirement before the Raiders came calling during the season but proved he can still play. Compton’s a sure tackler, a smart player, and a great locker-room presence. He could help on special teams and provide a veteran Plan B for Burfict, mentoring a linebacking group that should feature some highly-touted additions.
My take: Bring him back another year.

DL Dion Jordan: Gruden and Guenther called Jordan a Las Vegas Raider several times last season. They found a diamond in the rough, with Jordan on the right path and in great shape following a 10-game suspension to start the season. The Raiders liked his interior pass-rush ability and need it again next year. I believe the Raiders want him back and that Jordan wants to return, but another team might throw a bigger compensation package at him. He takes it if that happens.
My take: Re-sign him before free agency hits. His value might inflate on the open market.

RB DeAndre Washington: Washington was a true feature back during the season’s last two games, with Jacobs nursing a sore shoulder. He knows those opportunities won’t exist with the Raiders unless Jacobs is hurt. That’s why -- while he says he’s open to a return -- he’ll look for a better opportunity somewhere else. That should be fine with the Raiders, who should fill his roster spot with a bigger back.
My take: Washington finds another landing spot.

CB Nevin Lawson: The veteran played better over the last few games and provided quality depth and injury protection all season. He isn’t vital to future plans and could be allowed to walk away so Johnson, Keisean Nixon and maybe another draft pick could be in a better position to play.
My take: Let him go.

LB Kyle Wilber: He doesn’t play much defense but has been a core special teams player who's well-liked by coordinator Rich Bisaccia. The Raiders have developed young players to lead in the kicking game, meaning they don’t need Wilber as bad as they have before.
My take: Let Wilber walk.

QB Mike Glennon: The Raiders will want to get younger at backup quarterback. That spot could go to Nathan Peterman if Derek Carr is around. Or, if the Raiders make a quarterback switch, it could be a draft pick learning under a free-agent pickup.
My take: Mike’s on to another team no matter how it shakes out.