This season the Raiders have almost an entirely new coaching staff. It started with Josh McDaniels as head coach and then he reached out and brought in a bunch of coaches, most of whom he had worked within the past.
Those connections are important to McDaniels, as they are for the coordinators and assistants he hired to join him with the Raiders. And those connections figure to not just be limited to coaches, but former players as well.
The free-agent negotiating period opens Monday and you can expect some big names to agree to terms pretty early in the process. Those agreements become all the easier when the coaches are familiar with the player with whom they are dealing with because they’ve worked with them.
In that vein, I have collected what I deem to be the top ten free agents with connections to the Raiders’ new staff.
Not including Trent Brown, cuz, no.
CB J.C. Jackson
Dec 20, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) falls down after intercepting a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The top cornerback on the market with 22 interceptions the past three seasons. Josh McDaniels’s receivers had to face him in practice every week, so he’s certainly familiar with what Jackson brings to the table as a cover corner.
CB Stephon Gilmore
ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 03: Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots makes an interception in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
For three years, Gilmore and Jackson were *both* roaming the Patriots’ secondary attempting to challenge Josh McDaniels’s receivers. Gilmore for a year prior to Jackson’s arrival in New England and made two All Pro teams as well.
WR DJ Chark
Sep 26, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) runs with the ball while being chased by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Jalen Thompson (34) in the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
In Jacksonville, it was Chark who was challenging the DB’s who were coached by Raiders new DB coach Chris Ash who was the safeties coach for the Jaguars last season.
DT B.J. Hill
Sep 14, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) celebrates his sack on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) with defensive end B.J. Hill (95) in front of offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (78) and offensive tackle Zach Banner (72) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Hill was traded to the Bengals last offseason. Prior to that he spent three years with the Giants. The 2020 season his defensive coordinator was Raiders’ new DC Patrick Graham. Graham had coached the Giants’ defensive line, so that’s his specialty.
C Ted Karras
Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots guard Ted Karras (67) takes on the field prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
If Josh McDaniels would like to bring in a center who knows his offense, Ted Karras is that guy. Karras spent five of his six NFL seasons in McDaniels’s offense, and was the starting center two of the past three seasons.
DT Daquan Jones
Dec 12, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison (30) is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones (90) on a run during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports
After seven seasons in Tennessee, Daquan Jones played last season in Carolina where his defensive line coach was Raiders’ new DL coach Frank Okam.
RB James White
Sep 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) runs with the ball against Miami Dolphins cornerback Jason McCourty (30) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
The 30-year-old has played his entire eight-year career with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls with Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator.
DT Austin Johnson
Nov 22, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by New York Giants defensive tackle Austin Johnson (98) in the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Austin Johnson spent the past two seasons in New York where Patrick Graham was his defensive coordinator. Last season Johnson became a full time starter for the first time in his career. He started all 17 games and had a monster year with 72 combined tackles while adding 3.5 sacks and 7 QB hits.
FB Jakob Johnson
Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson (47) during warm ups prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The former college linebacker has been the Patriots full-time full back the past two seasons under Josh McDaniels. The Patriots didn’t put a tender on the restricted free agent, just as the Raiders didn’t tender their RFA FB Alec Ingold, leaving a vacancy at the fullback position.
LB Kyle Van Noy
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Van Noy won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. He left for Miami and returned last offseason, signed back on a two-year, $12 million deal, but was released this offseason. He’s a versatile linebacker with the ability to play anywhere from middle linebacker to pass rushing outside linebacker.