3 last-minute free agency predictions for the Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders' defense may look a whole lot different in 2024.

Las Vegas Raiders Introduce Antonio Pierce As Head Coach, Tom Telesco As General Manager
Las Vegas Raiders Introduce Antonio Pierce As Head Coach, Tom Telesco As General Manager / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

When free agency kicks off on March 13th, very few teams will have more options than the Raiders. According to Over The Cap, only 10 teams will have more effective cap space than Las Vegas, who will go into the new year with roughly $37 million to spend. That's good news for a team that, despite having a few All-Pro players on their roster, will have their work cut out for them if they want to improve on last year's 7-9 season in a brutal AFC West that's not getting any worse. The Raiders have a few things going for them already, though: players clearly love playing for Antonio Pierce, and as a destination, Vegas always sells itself. Free agency is a double-edged sword – there are plenty of good players available, but the idea that handing out a half-dozen big contracts can a turn a franchise around overnight proves, more often than not, to be untrue. But the Raiders figure to be active over the next few weeks, and here are a few predictions on what that may exactly look like.

The Raiders go big on the defensive line

After avoiding the franchise tag, Chiefs' star defensive lineman Chris Jones is staring the Raiders right in the face. And while there are plenty of reasons to believe that Jones will head back to Kansas City on a new deal, things have a tendancy to get weird once players hit the open market. Could the Raiders convince Jones to leave the best team in football while staying in the same division? It's difficult to imagine, but crazier things have happened. The good news? If Jones decides to go back to Kansas City, there are plenty of great defensive line options still available. The prediction here is that Jones realizes there are no better opportunities than the one with Patrick Mahomes at QB, and the Raiders shift their attention to signing Miami's Christian Wilkins.

Josh Jacobs time in Vegas isn't over

The Josh Jacobs news sort of got lost in the shuffle of the Saquon Barkley news, but the Raiders opting to not place the franchise tag on Jacobs was just as notable. He's been the lead back in Vegas for the last half decade, appearing in 73 games over that time while rushing for over 5500 yards. For all the attention that Barkley has (rightfully) gotten for being one of the premier NFL backs over that same stretch, Jacobs stats are almost identical. And now he'll head into free agency at only 26 years old, although NFL Insiders expect the Raiders to try and figure out a way to bring him back. He's coming off the worst statistical season of his career, with the caveat being that he only played in 13 games – the lowest since his rookie year. A return makes sense for both sides.

The offensive line is an early priority

The Raiders' offensive line was pretty much league average last year: at PFF, they were ranked 13th in pass blocking and 14th in run blocking; ESPN ranked them 15th in pass block win rate and 18th in run block win rate. It wasn't a disaster, but there's obviously room for improvement. The free agency market for offensive lineman isn't as strong as year's past, which could push the Raiders into working new deals for the guys they already have in house. Andre James is coming off the best season of his career and is an obvious extension candidate. Same with Jermaine Eluemunor, who provides a ton of versatility with his ability to play on both sides of the line. Maybe there's a splashier signing sprinkled in somewhere (Tyron Smith?! Kevin Dotson?!) but keeping continuity on a line that showed signs of being terrific is never a bad idea.


Next. Raiders trading for Justin Fields makes absolutely zero sense. Raiders trading for Justin Fields makes absolutely zero sense. dark