The Las Vegas Raiders have been very active in the trade market since Jon Gruden took over but they’ve tended to be sellers more often than buyers. For the first time since the coach returned, his team appears ready to make a run at the playoffs. However, the defense is a disaster right now and they are allowing a ton of points.
If the Raiders really believe they can make some noise in the playoffs this year, they should strongly consider adding some help on defense. With many teams struggling, there could be some really big names who are available. The Houston Texans are a team to watch as they’ve started off the season very poorly and already fired their coach. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they were sellers at the trade deadline. Though he’s had injury problems over the last few years, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal believes J.J. Watt could be a target for the Raiders:
Even at this stage of his career, the 31-year-old Watt would provide a huge boost to the Raiders’ pass rush. His 11 quarterback pressures would rank first on the team and his three sacks would be second.
Adding Watt could allow the Raiders to move Cle Ferrell inside for longer periods of the game, which would create more advantageous matchups for Ferrell against guards and centers.
The biggest red flag with Watt is his recent string of injury issues. He’s only played more than eight games in one of the last five seasons. The last season he played in 16 games, he notched 16 sacks. If it wasn’t for injuries, he may have gone down as the most prolific pass rusher in NFL history. If the Raiders are interested, they shouldn’t give up a first-round pick. However, Watt is the type of guy who can completely transform the defensive line if he stays healthy. It’s a move that could be worth the risk.
Stephon Gilmore Also Named as a Target
The Raiders’ pass rush is their biggest weakness right now but the team’s cornerback play hasn’t been special. Rumor has it that the New England Patriots are open to trading reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore. Bonsignore believes the Raiders could show interest:
His ability to play inside would be particularly attractive to the Raiders. That would allow them to play Gilmore in addition to young cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette rather than in lieu of either.
Gilmore has roughly $8 million remaining in 2020 salary, which means the Raiders would have to create space to fit him in under the cap.
According to an NFL personnel executive, the asking price for Gilmore would be no less than a first-round pick.
That first-round pick asking price probably won’t sit well with Gruden or general manager Mike Mayock. If they could get Gilmore for a second-rounder, they could consider it but it’s hard to imagine them using first-round picks on cornerbacks for two years in a row. Gilmore could be a game-changer for the Raiders and who could forget that team legend Mike Haynes also came to the Raiders after a trade from New England?
More Potential Fits
Bonsignore wasn’t done there as he also pegged Geno Atkins, Ryan Kerrigan, Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris as potential fits. Out of those names, Atkins would make a ton of sense. He spent years under Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther when he was in Cincinnati. The team is desperate for some type of interior pass rush and Atkins is one of the best to ever do it.
Smith also makes a lot of sense. The Raiders haven’t been getting good play out of their free safeties. Smith has made five straight Pro Bowls and is one of the best safeties in the NFL. He’d pair up very nicely with Johnathan Abram.