With $34 Million in Cap Space After June 1, What Will the Raiders Do?

The Raiders will go from $17 million to $34 million under the cap, due to QB Jimmy Garoppolo being cut.
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

As of June 1, the Raiders will go from $17 million to $34 million under the salary thanks to former QB Jimmy Garappolo, who was cut in March with a post-June-1 designation. The Raiders will have a chance to assess or make some decisions that might help strengthen their roster for the upcoming season as well as the future. What moves might we see? Which moves would most likely yield success? Let's take a look at how the Raiders might use this extra money.

What free agent could go to the Raiders?

Typically, the first thing people will say when they hear the Raiders have some salary cap space is, "let's go get a superstar," or "they need a cornerback, maybe a safety," so we can start there. With the cap space available, fixing the cornerback position has been a popular topic of conversation this offseason and may actually happen. There are still a few cornerbacks available as free agents who could really help this Raiders defense. A great addition would be Xavien Howard, in a move that would reunite him with Christian Wilkins, a former teammate from the Dolphins. Howard is possibly the most sought-after cornerback who is still available in free agency. Former Defensive Player of the Year (2019) Stephon Gilmore would give the cornerback room an instant veteran presence. Although Patrick Peterson may not be the superstar he once was, he still has some talent, and like Gilmore, would offer valuable experience. The next two, cornerbacks Adoree Jackson and J.C. Jackson, are at the top of my list. Both are 28 years old, so they can contribute for several seasons, and in 2024, both of their former teams will owe them money (Adoree-Giants $2.9 million, J.C.-Chargers $20 million). While J.C. Jackson's numbers may have dropped some last season, the potential to revitalize his career is right there. The Raiders and this defense could help do that, and at a very low cost. All of this could happen with your division rival footing the bill.

These four free agent safeties have a few things in common: they are all thirty years old, possess exceptional talent, are able to contribute, and are all still owed money from their previous teams. All of this means that the Raiders could sign talented players for relatively little money who still have a few seasons of high production left if they were able to sign any of these players. The Broncos owe Justin Simmons $3.7 million in 2024. Eddie Jackson: The Bears owe him $5.5 million by 2024. Marcus Maye, who the Saints owe $8.1 million by 2024. Quandre Diggs, who the Seahawks owe $10.2 million to in 2024.

Additionally, keep an eye on free agent LB Shaq Leonard, who the Colts will owe $8 million by 2024. Another player who has the potential for low risk and high reward, in my opinion. If anyone can get Leonard back playing at a high level, it's Antonio Pierce.

Possible candidates for extensions

A portion of this money may be used by the Raiders to extend contracts with current players, and the following three players are the most likely candidates for the team's next major extension: DE Malcolm Koonce, who is 25 years old and showed tremendous promise last season. CB Nate Hobbs, who is 24 years old and has been a reliable cornerback for the Raiders since he was selected in the 2021 draft. Safety Tre'von Moehrig, 24 years old, and has played consistently since also being selected in the 2021 draft. It is reasonable to assume that the Raiders are interested in securing this young talent for the future, and we will probably see those extensions granted.

What option might be best?

In summary, after June 1st, the Raiders may try to add some free agency talent, extend some contracts, or save as much money as possible. Personally, I would love to see the Raiders sign one of these free agents for a low cost, let the season play out for a few months, then potentially extend contracts. With most of the cap left over, then rolling into the next offseason, the team would have the opportunity to pursue a big name in free agency for the 2025 season.