There are good reasons to be excited for the 2019 Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have been in a constant state of disarray ever since Derek Carr broke his leg back in 2016. They went 6-10 in 2017 before going 4-12 under newly appointed head coach Jon Gruden. They failed to build much of a team around Carr and instead chose to sign players well past their prime. Both Marshawn Lynch and Jordy Nelson played big roles on the offense last year. However, new general manager Mike Mayock has made some excellent moves this offseason on both sides of the ball, and there is excitement building around the Raiders for possibly their last season in Oakland.
2019 Free Agency Winners: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders and Mayock made one of the first splashes of 2019 free agency, trading for the Pittsburgh Steelers disgruntled star receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is perhaps the best receiver of the last five seasons. He has tallied over 1200 yards in six straight seasons, including a career-high 1,834 in 2015. He gives Derek Carr a true top receiver and should do wonders to open up Oakland’s offense.
Newly signed wideout Tyrell Williams will also help on that front. Oakland signed him to a 4 year, $44 million deal to play opposite Brown. Williams is a talented downfield receiver with a huge frame and long strides. While with the Los Angeles Chargers, he enjoyed a career year in 2016, tallying 69 catches for 1059 yards after Keenan Allen went down for the year. Together, Brown and Williams should form one of the NFL’s best wide receiver tandems.
The Raiders also splurged for former New England Patriots tackle Trent Brown, making him the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history. Behind a revamped line and a much improved wide receiver corps, Derek Carr is in line for a bounce back 2019 season, and the Raiders offense has potential to be one of the most exciting in the NFL.
Mayock hasn’t done quite as much on the defensive side, but he made a couple of moves that bode well for the Raiders’ defensive prospects this season. He re-signed defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins to a two-year deal. Hankins is a force on the interior of the line, and Raiders fans should be glad he’s sticking around for 2019.
Oakland’s splash move on defense takes the form of safety Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner is a talented free safety who compiled 12 pass deflections and four picks over his last two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He also has some ability to play slot cornerback, so he should fit well in defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme as a versatile defensive back.
Oakland is armed with three first-round picks in the 2019 draft. If all goes well, they can select a pass rusher with their first pick, perhaps Kentucky’s Josh Allen. He would be a tremendous addition to a defense that struggled to force turnovers and do much of anything in 2018. The Raiders can move on and pick a linebacker or defensive back at 24. Once they’ve built a solid defensive core, they should target a running back. If Josh Jacobs is there at 27, he won’t get past the Raiders. After a strong free agency and with a good draft, there is no reason the Raiders can’t compete for a playoff bid in 2019.
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