Free agency is starting to close in for the Las Vegas Raiders and they could get pretty active after moving on from several big contracts. Most of the talk has been surrounding how the team needs to spend most of their money on defense. However, Las Vegas might not be set at wide receiver.
Nelson Agholor was a revelation for the Raiders last season but is set to hit free agency. If he doesn’t return, the team will have a pretty big need at the position. One name who been linked to Las Vegas is JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Pittsburgh Steelers star is a couple of years removed from his excellent 2018 season that saw him make a Pro Bowl. Regardless, he’s still a productive player.
Former player turned NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson believes Smith-Schuster would be an ideal fit with the Raiders.
— Raider Posts (@RaiderPosts) March 8, 2021
Smith-Schuster doesn’t currently have a lot of fans outside of Pittsburgh due to his decision to dance on opposing team logos during warm-ups last season. Many see him as being more concerned with social media than he is with winning. That’s probably an exaggeration as he’s been a good player throughout his career. Due to his flamboyant lifestyle, it’s easy to see him in Las Vegas.
Raiders Now Have Spending Money
Many will see the idea of the Raiders signing Smith-Schuster as a counterproductive move that will keep money away from fixing the defense. Before, that would’ve been the correct position. However, the team should now have a big chunk of cap space to spend. By moving on from Trent Brown, LaMarcus Joyner, Gabe Jackson, Tyrell Williams and Richie Incognito, the Raiders have opened up over $33 million in cap space, according to Vincent Bonsignore.
Accounting for rollovers/adjustments @Raiders salary cap will be $190,227,074 per @spotrac. If they move on from Gabe Jackson they are $33,714,923 under the cap. Moving on from Marcus Mariota will increase that by $10.7m
— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) March 10, 2021
It’s highly unlikely that Mariota is back at that $10.7 million price point so the team should have more than $40 million to play around with. They could feasibly sign an offensive playmaker like Smith Schuster and still have plenty of money to spend on the defense.
What Position Are the Raiders About to Spend Big On?
Over the last two offseason, the Raiders have spent big to fix specific positions. In 2019, the team handed Trent Brown a massive deal to solidify their right tackle spot. Last offseason, they spent a lot of money adding linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton.
It’s reasonable to believe the team has another big move in their sights. The defensive line is probably the team’s biggest need. Notable players like Carl Lawson, Yannick Ngakoue, Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris are all set to hit free agency. It’s feasible to see the Raiders dumping a ton of money to find a long-term fix for a defensive line that has struggled for years.
The team also has needs in the secondary. They need to add a cornerback and safety. Keep an eye on John Johnson and Richard Sherman when free agency starts. The Raiders will also have a need on the offensive line. The team is likely to re-sign Incognito on a smaller deal and Denzelle Good be brought back to take over Jackson’s spot at right guard. That would just leave a big need at right tackle but it’s possible they look to fill that position in the draft instead of free agency.