What if I told you that the Las Vegas Raiders won the 2023 off-season by bolstering every position with young, yet seasoned veterans at every position, while strategically sprinkling in rookie prospects– sparking a youth movement in likes of which has ever been seen in modern NFL history?
Dreamers like KaneTown and myself envision such a picture– highlighted with strategic maneuvering and manipulating of the salary cap, key cost-effective free agent acquisitions, and an outside-the-box trade proposal that potentially can provide the building blocks for an all-time great Raiders team for years to come.
All-Pro EDGE Maxx Crosby has already set the tone in efforts for such a dream to become a reality when he agreed to restructure his contract for the 2023 season, saving approximately $7.5M, according to Spotrac. In effect, the move gave the Raiders approximately $45.5M of cap space, giving them ample wiggle room for some good ol’ fashioned wheeling and dealing going into the Free Agency signing period.
A bit of help, agreement at the negotiation table, and tough decisions must occur in order for the wild vision to become a reality, however. Restructuring of LT Kolton Miller’s contract would be a part of the equation, saving the Raiders approximately $8.8M, along with giving the walking papers to underperforming DT Bilal Nichols and veteran RB Brandon Bolden. Such a move would add a little over $14M in cap space, placing the Raiders at roughly $60M. Other moves to consider in efforts to provide more cap space are the cutting of starting Center, Andre James, post-June 1st, as well as cutting scrappy CB, Amik Robertson.
Setting aside money for rookie prospects is also a prerequisite for this lofty dream to be realized. According to Spotrac, the projected salary cap cost for the Raiders Draft class will be approximately $13.8M. However, that number will likely climb, pending a blockbuster trade the Raiders must execute, which in summary, would land three additional prospects to the draft class. In effect, in the event cap space becomes an issue, cutting Andre James after June 1st has to be the executive decision that Raiders brass must make. Doing so would open up approximately $6.5M, allotting more than enough money to sign the massive draft class.
Listed below are the projected free agency acquisitions and draft results, along with a ROUGH estimation of the salary cap breakdown– courtesy of a couple of dreamers:
Cost-effective yet highly efficient free agent additions such as Safety Julian Love, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, and LB Bobby Okereke would be excellent options to bolster the Raiders defense, providing a young yet experienced line of service. Re-signing man-coverage extraordinaire, CB Rock Ya-Sin, and grizzled vet Duron Harmon provides a bit of continuity, which is key for success under any system.
On the offensive side of the ball, Offensive Guard Nate Davis strengthens a young and stout offensive line room, while Fullback Jakob Johnson is brought back for assurance that Josh Jacobs has his lead blocker for at least one more year.
QB Jarrett Stidham highlights the free agency period– but is he the answer at QB? Yes and no. In the mock draft, prospect QB Hendon Hooker was selected in the 3rd round, setting up a QB battle during training camp. No, you don’t have that established “rock star” at the position, but what you do have is two quarterbacks with massive upside. Both QB would also be considered salary cap friendly, allowing the Raiders to build the entire team around the youngsters. Teams such as the Eagles, 49ers, Bengals, and now, the Jaguars are following such a recipe for success, as they save money by having their guy under center on a rookie deal, allowing them to build at other positions. Let the battle commence!
In this scenario, the Raiders also deal their #7 overall to the Detroit Lions for their #18 overall, their 2nd round pick, and two other mid-round picks, which in turn becomes DT Calijah Kansey, LB Drew Sanders, and ultra versatile DL Tuli Tuipulotu. Such moves provide versatility at the defensive line positions in likes of which has never been seen by Raider Nation. Sanders would then be paired up with Bobby Okereke at the interior LB position, flexing Patrick Graham’s defensive philosophy that emphasizes versatility.
Offensively, the young QBs are also blessed with young WR pieces to grow with, in “The Dancing Machine,” Tank Dell, and the supremely athletic Andrei Iosivas. Pairing these youngsters with veterans Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders have the potential to display one of the most lethal WR rooms in the NFL.
Depth pieces are also added in the draft, bolstering a what now looks like a well-rounded, equally invested roster from top to bottom after this draft.
In a perfect world, GM Dave Zeigler and coach Josh McDaniels put their nose to the grindstone this week and start laying the building blocks for an incredible turnaround on both ends of the ball. The dreamer in all of us believes it can be done.