Las Vegas Raiders: Is the gap widening in the AFC West heading into 2023?
By Brad Weiss
The Las Vegas Raiders have not made too many splashy additions this offseason, but has that led to an even bigger gap in the AFC West?
It has certainly been an interesting offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders, as they said goodbye to Derek Carr after nine seasons as the starting quarterback. In his place, Jimmy Garoppolo arrives on a three-year deal, and despite a reputation for not being able to stay healthy, he has some high expectations.
The problem is, the AFC West gap has likely widened this offseason, as Denver went out and spent a ton of money, as well as brought in Sean Payton as head coach. That means Josh McDaniels is battling with Brandon Staley for worst head coach in the division, a title he actually may hold after the job he did in Year 1 in Las Vegas in 2022, taking over a playoff team.
Kansas City is still the crown jewel of the division, especially coming off another Super Bowl win. The Los Angeles Chargers have done a nice job adding talent this offseason and retaining big-name players, while Denver has to be better in 2023 with Payton replacing a terrible coach in Nathaniel Hackett.
Raiders have to nail the 2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL Draft is going to make or break the David Ziegler Era in Las Vegas, as he has a ton of elite draft capital to work with. Also, if he decides to not go quarterback in the first round, he can maneuver down on Day 1, collecting even more draft picks as he looks to reinvent this roster.
Ziegler has done an excellent job in free agency bringing in players on short contracts, not committing to lesser-known players, and hoping that a few of them join the Silver and Black and have career years. He also did not overspend on Jimmy Garoppolo, getting a starting-caliber quarterback who has taken his team to the Super Bowl recently, so good job by him there as well.
Raiders 3-round 2023 NFL Mock Draft: 2 Day 1 trades and a franchise QB
The Las Vegas Raiders swing two first-round trades in our latest 3-round mock, and still manage to get an elite player at a position of need.
The problem is, the talent level on this Raiders team, especially on defense, is just not up to par with the rest of the AFC West. In a division where you play Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and even Russell Wilson twice, defense is what is going to set them apart, and right now, that unit looks worse than it did a year ago.
When all is said and done, at least for 2023, the gap seems to have widened negatively for the Silver and Black.