The new regime is here, and they’ve let everyone know. In less than a full free agency period, the Las Vegas Raiders have gone from playoff hopefuls to possible Super Bowl contenders.
There’s still work to be done, though.
January 30th – The day of the conference championship games. As the world watched to see who would move onto the Super Bowl, Mark Davis had different plans. Davis announced the hiring of both general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniel; A duo that would go into the off-season with guns blazing.
As the season wrapped up and the free agency period came around, we were welcomed with two legal tampering days. During these days the AFC West turned into an absolute powerhouse. The Broncos traded for an All-Pro quarterback, Chargers scored free agency’s top defensive back, and Khalil Mack and Kansas City was coming off of their fourth AFC championship game in the same amount of years.
Las Vegas, on the other hand, did nothing. That all changed when it was time to actually sign free agents.
The first big move was a combo-deal no one could’ve seen coming. Behind closed doors, the Raiders and Colts agreed on a deal; Yannick Ngakoue would be shipped to Indianapolis, giving Las Vegas cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in return. For this deal to be official, the Raiders first had to find their replacement edge rusher. Welcome, 2x All-Pro Chandler Jones.
Not only did the Raiders acquire quite possibly the league’s top edge rusher with this move, but they also grabbed 2021’s no.1 man-coverage corner, per Pro Football Focus. Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols was also signed, giving the Raiders an aggressive pass rusher from the interior.
It’s ok to cherish this moment, Raider Nation. Finishing the 2018 season, the Raiders defense recorded 13 sacks throughout the entire year. Now, just four years later, they have two All-Pro edge rushers.
Snagging Ya-Sin wasn’t enough to satisfy Ziegler. With defensive coordinator Patrick Graham being vocal about wanting four legitimate cornerbacks, the first-year general manager gave Graham exactly what he wanted, as the Raiders announced they were signing Anthony Averett. Averett may not have been the no.1 corner in anything last season, but he did break up 11 passes last season and intercept another three.
With the defensive line and secondary looking a lot better, the new regime dropped a bomb on the NFL world once more, tackling yet another opportunity to bring in elite talent. What was a rumor for years finally became a reality; The Las Vegas Raiders acquired All-Pro wideout, Davante Adams.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Las Vegas Raiders now have a Pro Bowl quarterback, running back, tight end, and two wide receivers. On the defensive side, there are two All-Pro’s on the line and an abundance of young, promising defensive-back talent.
The Silver and Black are right on the edge of Super Bowl contention, but there are still things that need to be addressed before taking that jump. Before we discuss what needs to change to make Las Vegas a legitimate contender, let me explain why this isn’t your same ol’ Raiders.