2023 Las Vegas Raiders Offseason Preview
Raiders owner Mark Davis spent his 2022 offseason importing as much of the New England organization as possible. He started with Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler as his next general manager and followed that up by hiring Josh McDaniels as his next head coach. Then, looking to stay in the arms race that was the AFC West, Vegas added Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. All of these additions to a playoff team should have resulted in another strong season, and it nearly did. The Raiders played in 13 one-score games but only won four of them. They blew leads of 21, 17, 17, and 13 points. By the end of the year, they were resigned to starting Jarrett Stidham in an effort to protect Derek Carr. Looking to move on from Carr in the offseason, Vegas couldn't allow him to get hurt.
Key Offensive Stats
Points per game: 23.2 (12th)
EPA per play: 0.01 (15th)
Dropback EPA per play: 0.06 (13th)
Passing yards per game: 231.4 (11th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.07 (18th)
Rush yards per game: 121.1 (17th)
The Raiders' issues weren't on offense. Looking at only Carr's starts, they were 11th in passing EPA per play and 13th in rush EPA per attempt. Adams was entirely unaffected by his change of scenery, averaging six catches for 91 yards and nearly an entire touchdown per game with Carr under center. Josh Jacobs, looking to prove a point after having his fifth-year option declined, ran like a madman. He posted 21 carries for 107 yards weekly. His numbers dipped under Stidham, but he still managed to hold on to the rushing crown. Going to Stidham was a downgrade, but Carr wasn't setting the league ablaze either. He ranked 28th in the league in completion percent over expected and 21st in yards per attempt.
Key Defensive Stats
Points per game: 24.6 (26th)
EPA per play: 0.07 (30th)
Dropback EPA per play: 0.15 (31st)
Passing yards per game: 242.9 (29th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.06 (19th)
Rush yards per game: 122.8 (19th)
Las Vegas's defense couldn't make big plays and couldn't stop allowing them. They allowed the eighth-highest big play rate (one EPA or greater) while generating the fourth-fewest high-impact reps of their own. They were also among the league's worst teams in success rate against the run and pass. Maxx Crosby, per usual, was the one bright spot on this side of the ball. He set a career-high in sacks (12.5) and was ranked as Pro Football Focus's No. 4 EDGE defender. Despite the Raiders' struggles at defense, it wasn't for a lack of experience. Per PFF, all five of their players ranked top-50 at their respective positions were drafted in 2019 or earlier.
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Draft Picks (Top-150)
7th, 39th, 71st, 110th, 144th, and 147th
Notable Free Agents
RB Josh Jacobs, S Duron Harmon, WR, Mack Hollins, TE Foster Moreau, CB Rock Ya-Sin, OT Jermaine Eluemunor, OG Alex Bars, EDGE Clelin Ferrell, CB Anthony Verrett, and LB Denzel Perryman
C Andre James ($5.1 million in savings) and DT Bilal Nichols ($3.1 million)
The Raiders already made their big cut when they released Carr. The move saved them $29.3 million. This gave them the third-most cap space of any franchise.
With Carr gone and Jarrett Stidham a free agent, the Raiders don't have a starting quarterback on their roster. The draft, free agency, or the trade market could all be used to address this need.
Rock Ya-Sin, acquired via an offseason trade, is a free agent, as is Anthony Averett. Nate Hobbs is the only starting corner drafted by the Raiders in the past four years, though Amik Robertson showed some signs of life in his third season.
Duron Harmon was one of the few bright spots in the Raiders' secondary and he is a free agent. The most logical move is to bring the 32-year-old safety back on a one-year deal and continue to start him opposite Trevon Moehrig. The Raiders could then look for his replacement in the later rounds of the draft.
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The Raiders didn't make any significant coaching changes in the offseason. A second losing season with Carr under center may have spelled the end of this regime, but we will never know. Starting over with a rookie may buy McDaniels another year beyond 2023.
Finding high-level quarterback play in the NFL isn't easy, and the Raiders don't have many paths to procure a top-end passer. Carr was solid in 2022, but that was not enough to make them a contender in the AFC. The free agency pool doesn't have any meaningful upgrades over him. That leaves the Raiders with two options. They can draft at quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick or reunite Aaron Rodgers with Adams. Given the state of their defense and what it would cost to acquire Rodgers, looking toward the future with a rookie has a better long-term outlook.