7 positions of immediate need for Raiders as free agency opens and top available free agents

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Levi Damien
·4 min read
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Happy Friday, everyone. NFL teams will be working through the weekend trying to re-sign some of their own free agents while prepping for free agency. Come Monday, the rubber hits the road at breakneck speed.

That’s when the free-agent negotiating period or ‘legal tampering period’ opens. That’s when deals will be made, many of which will happen quickly.

In the past couple of years, the Raiders have been busy early. A few of those players added in the first few hours of free agency two years ago were sent packing this offseason. Most notably Tyrell Williams, Trent Brown, and Lamarcus Joyner. Their exits, along with some others have left behind gaping holes the Raiders must fill.

Obviously, the draft is the ideal place to find those replacements, but the first place they will look is in free agency. And ideally, they will set themselves up so that once the draft gets here, they will have a starting option in-house so they don’t reach for any position in the draft.

Usually putting together a list of top draft needs has a nice round number like five. But for this team, five is not enough. There are at least seven positions with a need that the team could look to fill in free agency.

Here are those positions along with some of the top free agents available to fill them.

Disclaimer: Some Raiders’ position needs are very specific so don’t be surprised if a player you consider a top free agent is not among those listed.

1. Defensive tackle

With only part-time starter Maurice Hurst for sure returning, the Raiders have a need for two starters this offseason. Especially for some interior pass rush. And Leonard Williams was slapped with the franchise tag, so he’s not an option. Bringing back Johnathan Hankins would be a smart move to fill the nose tackle spot.

Top free agents:

Dalvin Tomlinson
Shelby Harris
Sheldon Rankins
DeQuan Jones
Kawann Short
Larry Ogunjobi

2. Offensive tackle

Trent Brown’s trade will be official when free agency opens. Until then the Raiders need to get to work finding his replacement at right tackle.

Top free agents:

Daryl Williams
Mitchell Schwartz
Ricky Wagner
Riley Reiff
Kelvin Beachum
Matt Feiler

3. Edge rusher

When your best pass rusher has seven sacks and the next guy on the team had three, you’ve got issues. And new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is used to having elite pass rushers. Re-signing Takkarist McKinley would be a smart move after stashing him on IR the latter half of last season.

Top free agents:

Shaq Barrett
Bud Dupree
Leonard Floyd
Matthew Judon
Melvin Ingram
Haason Reddick

4. Offensive Guard

Again, two starters are needed with both Gabe Jackson and Richie Incognito released. Reports suggest the Raiders will look to bring back Incognito at a lower salary. Re-signing Denzelle Good would also be smart. But as of now, they have two holes to fill.

Top free agents:

Joe Thuney
Kevin Zeitler
Germain Ifedi
Kyle Long
John Miller

5. Safety

Bradley’s defense requires a very rangy free safety. Johnathan Abram is a strong safety, Jeff Heath is a capable, but an unspectacular option and Erik Harris is headed for free agency.

Top free agents:

Anthony Harris
John Johnson
Xavier Woods
Malik Hooker
Keanu Neal
Jaquiski Tartt
Duron Harmon
Tre Boston

6. Wide receiver

The starters last season were supposed to be rookie Henry Ruggs III and Tyrell Williams. Then Williams was lost for the season and the Raiders were never able to replace him. Nelson Agholor was the team’s best receiver, but he’s more of a speedster like Ruggs, only better at getting open. Bringing Agholor back would be smart, but if even if they do, they need more talent overall at the position.

Top free agents:

Kenny Golladay
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Corey Davis
TY Hilton
Curtis Samuel
Marvin Jones Jr
Sammy Watkins
Keenan Cole
Breshad Perriman

7. Cornerback

With Lamarcus Joyner gone, the Raiders have an immediate need for a nickel cornerback. They could also use some competition on the outside with Damon Arnette.

Top free agents:

Richard Sherman
Desmond King II
Troy Hill
Michael Davis
Patrick Peterson
Mike Hilton
AJ Bouye
Quinton Dunbar
Xavier Rhodes
Ronald Darby
Bashaud Breeland
Cameron Sutton