2019 NFL Offseason: Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders (Last Year: 4-12)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Mike Glennon, RB Isaiah Crowell, WR Antonio Brown, WR Tyrell Williams, WR J.J. Nelson, WR Ryan Grant, OT Trent Brown, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Josh Mauro, ILB Brandon Marshall, ILB Vontaze Burfict, CB Nevin Lawson, S Lamarcus Joyner, S Curtis Riley.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Clelin Ferrell, RB Josh Jacobs, S Johnathan Abram, CB Trayvon Mullen, DE Max Crosby, CB Isaiah Johnson, TE Foster Moreau, WR Hunter Renfrow. Raiders Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB A.J. McCarron, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jared Cook, OT Donald Penn, G Kelechi Osemele, DE Kony Ealy, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Reggie Nelson.

2019 Oakland Raiders Offense:
Though the Raiders were ultimately upstaged by the Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, they made a big splash when they traded for one of the best receivers in the NFL. They acquired Antonio Brown from the Steelers for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, ending all of the speculation about where the disgruntled perennial Pro Bowler would ultimately be dealt.

Brown has been exceptional this decade, logging 100 or more receptions in each of the past six seasons. However, his tenure in Pittsburgh ended on a sour note, as he refused to play in a must-win season finale because of a spat with Ben Roethlisberger. While Brown will initially be eager to prove to the Steelers that they were foolish for moving on from him, it’s fair to wonder what his temperament will be once he grows frustrated with Derek Carr’s pedestrian passing. Carr is not an accurate quarterback, so once Brown realizes that he’s not playing with a Pro Bowl signal-caller anymore, and voices his frustration, it could cause a major headache in the locker room. Carr ultimately needs to be replaced anyhow, but a Brown tirade could derail any momentum the Raiders obtain from a possible Week 1 victory over the Broncos on Monday Night Football.

Brown wasn’t the only receiver the Raiders acquired this offseason. They also signed Tyrell Williams from the rival Chargers. Williams is an inconsistent deep threat who won’t look as good with Carr throwing the ball to him, rather than Philip Rivers. Another new wideout, Ryan Grant, will also see a decline as far as his passer is concerned, as he’ll be going from Andrew Luck to Carr.

While Carr will have new receivers to throw to, he lost his favorite weapon from last year when Jared Cook signed with the Saints. Oakland never replaced Cook. The team used a fourth-round pick on tight end Foster Moreau, but the LSU product is more of a blocker than a receiver. Instead, Oakland selected Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow in the next round. Renfrow is a very poor man’s Julian Edelman, but he’s a player Carr could lock in on, given his deep accuracy woes.

One of Oakland’s first-round picks, meanwhile, was spent on Alabama running back Josh Jacobs. The tough runner figures to start right away, replacing a retired Marshawn Lynch. The long-time Seahawk back seemed to be running on fumes last year, so Jacobs figures to be an instant upgrade. Jon Gruden loves running the ball, so Jacobs could be among the league leaders in rushing yards in his first season.

Jacobs will have plenty of room running behind new right tackle Trent Brown. The 380-pound blocker was exceptional for the Patriots, so he’ll provide a huge boost on the offensive line. There’s a dubious history of former New England players struggling elsewhere, but considering that Brown also thrived in San Francisco in 2017, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to perform on a high level. The Raiders will be hoping that his bookend, Kolton Miller, takes the next step in his development. Miller played well at times early on as a rookie, but regressed when he suffered an injury prior to the London game. Miller is athletic, so his ceiling is high.

If Miller improves, the Raiders will have just one hole on the offensive line. That would be at left guard, a spot vacated by Kelechi Osemele’s departure. Denzelle Good is the favorite to start there, which is not, well, good. Right guard Gabe Jackson and center Rodney Hudson will have to carry Good, and they’re talented enough to do so.

2019 Oakland Raiders Defense:
The Raiders were projected to finish 10-6 in last year’s season previews, but that prediction was made prior to the Khalil Mack trade. Oakland shockingly dealt Mack to the Bears for multiple first-round picks in a move that was criticized by many. The Raiders, however, didn’t have the funds to pay Mack, so they didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Regardless, the end result was that Oakland couldn’t generate any sort of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and the defense always seemed to run out of gas in the second half.

The front office absolutely had to replace Mack, so they spent the fourth-overall pick on Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. Though the pick was poor from a value perspective – the Raiders could have traded down 5-10 spots and still obtained him – there’s a good chance that Ferrell will perform on a high level for his new team. Ferrell is talented enough to be an occasional Pro Bowler in the NFL, and he’ll undoubtedly upgrade his team’s horrendous pass rush, which had a laughable 13 sacks in 2018. Ferrell figures to start across from Arden Key, a talented player who slipped in last year’s draft because of character concerns. Key had one sack last year, but flashed some potential. With opponents worrying about Ferrell, Key could be free to rack up more sacks.

Oakland’s sack leader last year was defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who accumulated four. Hurst is another player who fell in the 2018 NFL Draft, albeit for a different reason. Hurst’s heart condition prompted his fall to the fifth frame, where the Raiders obtained a steal. Hurst was arguably the team’s best defensive player last year. That may not be saying much when comparing him to the other 10 players, but considering that he was just a rookie, it was still impressive. Hurst will continue to start in the interior of the defensive line next to Johnathan Hankins, a massive, 320-pound run plugger.

With Ferrell joining Hurst to improve the team’s pass rush, the secondary should perform better as a result. This was bound to happen anyway, given that the Raiders have three new players in their defensive backfield. They made a big splash in free agency by signing former Rams safety LaMarcus Joyner to a contract worth more than $10 million per season. Joyner has played very well over the past couple of seasons, so he figures to be a big upgrade. He’ll start next to the third of Oakland’s first-round picks, Johnathan Abram. Erik Harris, who performed on a high level at the end of last season, also figures to be in the mix in sub packages.

The other new addition to the secondary is Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, chosen in the second round. Mullen might be the weak point of the Raiders’ secondary, at least initially to start his career. He’ll play across from Gareon Conley, a 2017 first-round pick who saw a decline in play last year because of a lingering foot injury. Conley should be better in 2019, especially with a better pass rush aiding him.

With the defensive line and secondary upgraded, the weakness of Oakland’s defense is now the linebacking corps. The Raiders obtained two new players to help in that area, signing Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict. Both Marshall and Burfict were once terrific players, but injuries have sapped them of their effectiveness. It’s possible that one of them will have a resurgence, but it’s more likely that they’ll continue to struggle.

2019 Oakland Raiders Schedule and Intangibles:
The Black Hole seems like an intimidating place to play, but the Raiders are a sub-.500 team (87-102) as hosts since 1995. They were 3-4 at home last year, which seems irrelevant now, considering that the Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas soon.

Sebastian Janikowski wasn’t the Raiders’ kicker heading into a season for the first time last year since 2000. Giorgio Tavecchio was the replacement initially, but Oakland ultimately signed Daniel Carlson, who was 16-of-17, including 3-of-3 from beyond 50. He didn’t miss a single extra point.

Oakland spent a fifth-round pick on Florida punter Johnny Townsend last year. Townsend was just 29th in net average, proving once again that it’s foolish to spend a Round 1-6 selection on a punter.

Oakland had mediocre special teams last year. The team outgained the opposition on punt returns, but was worse on kickoffs.

The Raiders should be favored in their Week 1 matchup against the Broncos. However, things get much more difficult after that. They have to battle the Chiefs (home), Vikings (road), Colts (road), Bears (London), Packers (road) and Texans (road) after that. All of those games could easily be losses, especially when considering that the Raiders’ first home game following their Sept. 15 battle with the Chiefs won’t take place until Nov. 3.

2019 Oakland Raiders Rookies:
Go here for the Raiders Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2019 Oakland Raiders Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Oakland Raiders Analysis: The Raiders’ final season in Oakland won’t be a pretty one. The team will be more competitive than last year’s version, but a very unfavorable early schedule could bury them in the standings. This could prompt Antonio Brown to cause problems in his new locker room. The end result might just be that the Raiders will finish with the worst record in the NFL, but that would be a blessing in disguise, given the tremendous quarterbacking talent in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Projection: 3-13 (4th in AFC West)

2018 Projection: 10-6. 2018 Actual Result: 4-12.
2017 Projection: 12-4. 2017 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 9-7. 2016 Actual Result: 12-4.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Raiders obviously have to upgrade their defense, which still has huge holes all over the place. They’ll also be on the lookout for a new running back, some interior offensive line help and a quarterback to groom behind Derek Carr, but this draft must focus on improving one of the worst stop units in the NFL.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Much was made of the shocking Clelin Ferrell selection. Lost in it is the fact that Ferrell will likely be a good player for the Raiders over the next decade. It seems as though people are forgetting that. The problem, of course, was that the Raiders could’ve traded down and still obtained him, hence the “F” grade for that pick.

The rest of Oakland’s draft was solid. Five of the first six selections were used to upgrade the horrid defense. Two were edge rushers, with the underrated Maxx Crosby joining Ferrell. The other three were secondary players, most prominently safety Johnathan Abram, who was arguably the top player at his position in the entire class. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen should upgrade the other area in the secondary. No picks were used on linebackers, but it’s not like the Raiders could’ve addressed all of their needs.

Despite the initial gaffe, I liked the Raiders’ draft overall. They should’ve obtained more value from the No. 4 slot, and I’m not crazy about using a first-round pick on a running back, but Oakland added good players and improved its defense. It’s also worth noting that many of the Raiders’ selections were used on team captains and other high-character players, so it’s a good sign that Mike Mayock recognizes how important it is to have a positive locker room.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

Oh no. OHHH NOOOOO. Mike Mayock, what are you doing?

This is insane. I joked that Clelin Ferrell could go this high in my live draft blog, but I was only kidding. Clelin Ferrell is a poor pick. This selection provides absolutely no value. The Bills are reportedly desperate to move up for Ed Oliver. Couldn’t the Raiders have traded down to Buffalo’s choice, accepting less in value to make the deal happen? No one in the top seven is taking Ferrell. That said, I don’t think Ferrell will be a bad player. In fact, I think he’ll be a good pass rusher for the Raiders. I could see him becoming an occasional Pro Bowler. The problem is that this is a horrible value selection for the Raiders, who could’ve obtained more resources for a player who was expected to be available in the teens.

24. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama B- Grade
I’m not crazy about picking a non-elite running back in the first round. Jacobs is a good player, but he’s definitely not elite. There are so many viable running back options who will be available in the second round, so this selection doesn’t seem necessary. However, I can at least understand the decision. Jon Gruden loves to run the ball, and with Marshawn Lynch retiring, there was a huge void at the position. Jacobs should be very productive in Oakland, assuming the team addresses its offensive line at some point.

27. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State B+ Grade
Ian Rapoport just said the Raiders wanted Montez Sweat, but his teammate is not a poor alternative. Charlie Campbell actually slotted Johnathan Abram to the Raiders at this spot, so this makes sense. Abram, arguably the top safety in this class – sorry, Packers – is a logical choice for Oakland, a team that had to upgrade the position. This is a solid pick for sure, as Abram will strengthen the secondary. He fits the range, so it seems as though an A- or B+ is in order.

40. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson B- Grade
I mocked Trayvon Mullen to the Raiders in the second round of both the real mock and the re-draft, but I thought that was a bit too high for him. I had Mullen pegged as a third-round prospect, so I think this is a bit too early to take him. However, the Raiders traded down twice prior to making this pick, so I don’t mind the value aspect of this selection too much. Also, Mullen has plenty of upside as a developmental cornerback. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to help much this year, but he could be a terrific player for them in the future.

106. Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan A Grade
There are some excellent picks being made atop Round 4, and this is another one. Maxx Crosby could’ve been chosen a whole round earlier than this. He’s a talented edge rusher who happens to be physically gifted. He also has high character marks. He needs to add some bulk, but he has tremendous upside to fill Oakland’s greatest need.

129. Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston A- Grade
Isaiah Johnson has immense upside because of his size (6-2, 208) and speed combination. He doesn’t have much experience, which is why he’s a fourth-round pick. However, he could have been chosen earlier than this, and I like the Raiders using this pick to gamble on his incredible potential to fill a big need.

137. Foster Moreau, TE, LSU B Grade
The Raiders were looking for a replacement for Jared Cook, and here he is. Sort of. Foster Moreau is more of a blocker than a receiver, but he has the athleticism to emerge as a quality pass-catcher. However, he didn’t play very well as a receiver at LSU, though he has high character traits.

149. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson B Grade
Analytics people will hate Hunter Renfrow because he was one of the worst testers at the combine, and he’s “only” a slot receiver. However, Hunter Renfrow could be the latest “too small, too slow” receivers who ends up overachieving in the slot. I think this is a fine pick in the fifth round.

230. Quinton Bell, DE/OLB, Prairie View A- Grade
Mike Mayock stumped the truck with this pick, but I had him in my top 500, so I won’t criticize this pick. On the contrary, I think it’s pretty good. Bell caught my attention with an amazing pro day performance. He leapt 41 1/2 inches and posted an 11-4 broad jump despite weighing 240 pounds. He’s a freak athlete and has immense upside. If coached up well, he could make something of himself.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The first year of the new Jon Gruden era didn’t produce many wins, but the Raiders are set up very well for the future with tons of draft picks to bolster their roster.

Offseason Moves:
  • Raiders sign DE Benson Mayowa
  • Raiders sign WR Ryan Grant
  • Raiders sign RB Isaiah Crowell
  • Raiders sign ILB Brandon Marshall
  • Raiders sign QB Mike Glennon
  • Raiders sign S Curtis Riley
  • Raiders sign CB Nevin Lawson
  • Raiders sign ILB Vontaze Burfict
  • Raiders cut OT Donald Penn
  • Raiders sign DT Josh Mauro
  • Raiders sign WR J.J. Nelson
  • Raiders cut QB A.J. McCarron
  • Raiders cut WR Jordy Nelson
  • Raiders sign WR Tyrell Williams
  • Raiders sign S Lamarcus Joyner
  • Raiders sign OT Trent Brown
  • Raiders acquire WR Antonio Brown from Steelers
  • Jets acquire G Kelechi Osemele, 6th-round pick from Raiders for 2019 5th-round pick

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Defensive Ends: Oakland’s greatest priority this offseason is fixing every level of the defense. The front office might as well start up front. The pass rush was invisible last year in the wake of the Khalil Mack trade. Two new defensive ends are needed. One to start across from Arden Key, and another for depth purposes. Signed Benson Mayowa

    2. Two Linebackers: The Raiders are devoid of talent at linebacker. Tahir Whitehead is OK, but the front office must find two new players at the position for much-needed upgrades. Signed Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict

    3. Cornerback: Assistance in the secondary is needed as well. Gareon Conley was a rare strength for Oakland’s defense. A starter is needed across from him. Signed Nevin Lawson

    4. Safety: Karl Joseph got off to a slow start in 2018, but picked up his play late in the year. Oakland will need to add another safety. Signed Lamarcus Joyner

    5. Two Wide Receivers: The Raiders have absolutely no receiving talent. Jordy Nelson shouldn’t be in the NFL any longer. Traded for Antonio Brown; signed Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant

    6. Defensive Tackle: This is another spot on the defensive line the Raiders should address. Maurice Hurst had a strong rookie campaign, but help is needed next to him. Signed Josh Mauro

    7. Right Tackle: Donald Penn’s injury helped derail the Raiders. They missed him all year. They can’t count on him staying healthy, so Oakland will need to find a bookend across from Kolton Miller. Signed Trent Brown

    8. Running Back: Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are both free agents. Lynch isn’t expected back, but that’s just fine because the Raiders needed a young running back to replace him anyway. Signed Isaiah Crowell

    9. Quarterback: Derek Carr is a below-average starting quarterback. He refuses to take shots downfield, while his teammates question his toughness. The Raiders may want to move on from him. Signed Mike Glennon

    10. Tight End: Jared Cook is a free agent. If the Raiders keep Carr, they should re-sign Cook because the two have great chemistry together.

    11. Punter: Johnny Townsend finished last in net punting average.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Trent Brown, OT, Patriots. Age: 26.
      Signed with Raiders (4 years, $66 million; $36.75 million guaranteed)

      There was some doubt as to whether or not Trent Brown could play well on the blind side, but he silenced critics with his performance in 2018. Brown played very well at left tackle, and at just 26 (in April), he has immense potential to eventually emerge on a Pro Bowl level.

    2. Lamarcus Joyner, S, Rams. Age: 28.
      Signed with Raiders (4 years)

      Lamarcus Joyner has been a stellar safety for the Rams over the past couple of years. He hasn’t played a full season since 2015, which is a bit of a concern, but he should still command a high price tag in free agency this spring.

    3. Brandon Marshall, LB, Broncos. Age: 29.
      Signed with Raiders (1 year, $4.1 million)

      Brandon Marshall was once a stellar linebacker, but his play has fallen off a cliff in recent years because of injuries. However, Marshall isn’t 30 yet, so he still has time to get healthy and rebound.

    4. Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Raiders (4 years, $44 million; $22 million guaranteed)

      Tyrell Williams is a couple of years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign. Williams is a deep threat with great size (6-4, 205), so perhaps he can flourish elsewhere.

    5. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Bengals. Age: 28.
      Signed with Raiders (1 year)

      Vontaze Burfict once would’ve been ranked as a four-star free agent, but injuries have sabotaged his career. He’s played in just 43 of 80 possible games over the past five seasons, and now there’s speculation that he may have to retire because of concussions.

    6. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Jets. Age: 26.
      Signed with Raiders

      Isaiah Crowell has a lot of natural talent, and he flashed it early in 2016 before the Browns had offensive line issues. However, he’s been a disappointment since. He struggled in 2018 outside of three games. Crowell has motivational issues that he must overcome.

    7. Mike Glennon, QB, Cardinals. Age: 29.
      Signed with Raiders

      Mike Glennon failed as a full-time starter in Chicago, but he’s still a top-tier backup and a capable spot starter. Glennon turns 30 in December.

    8. Ryan Grant, WR, Colts. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders (1 year)
    9. Benson Mayowa, DE, Cardinals. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders
    10. Nevin Lawson, CB, Lions. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders (1 year, $3.05 million)
    11. J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders
    12. Josh Mauro, DE/DT, Giants. Age: 28. — Signed with Raiders (1 year, $1.4 million)
    13. Curtis Riley, S, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders

    Oakland Raiders Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Rashaan Melvin, CB, Raiders. Age: 29.
      Signed with Lions (1 year, $3.5 million)

      Rashaan Melvin is a skilled cornerback, but his one major weakness is his durability. He’s not dependable at all, as he’s yet to play a full season in the NFL. Still, everyone knows this, so that could make him an attractive buy-low option.

    2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders. Age: 33.
      Marshawn Lynch still looked like he had plenty left in the tank this season, averaging 4.2 yards per carry behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Lynch turns 33 in April and could sign with a contender on a 1-year deal.

    3. Jared Cook, TE, Raiders. Age: 32.
      Signed with Saints

      Jared Cook is coming off an amazing year. He’s enjoyed several 100-yard receiving games, as he and Derek Carr formed some terrific chemistry. It took Cook a while to blossom, but he’s finally done it. Unfortunately for Cook, he turns 32 this offseason.

    4. Doug Martin, RB, Raiders. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Raiders

      Doug Martin just turned 30, but he didn’t play too poorly for the Raiders. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry despite running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. He can still be a fill-in starter for a team with an injury at the position.

    5. Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 27.
      Kony Ealy performed very well for the Jets in 2017, at least in the first half of the season. He slowed down toward the end, but it was a reminder that Ealy once dominated in the Super Bowl. Ealy barely played this year, but he still has some potential.

    6. Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders. Age: 34.
      Announced retirement

      Jordy Nelson’s career is coming to an end. He had some nice performances late last year, but he can no longer get separation.

    7. Donald Penn, OT, Raiders. Age: 36.
      Donald Penn was once a stellar left tackle for the Raiders, but his play has fallen off a cliff recently. Penn has battled lethargy and injuries, and he’s now 36 (as of April). Penn’s days in the NFL could be done, but there’s also a chance he could bounce back for one more decent season.

    8. Jalen Richard (RFA), RB, Raiders. Age: 25. — Tendered by Raiders (2nd round)
    9. Marcus Gilchrist, S, Raiders. Age: 30.
    10. Erik Harris (RFA), S, Raiders. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Raiders (2 years)
    11. Reggie Nelson, S, Raiders. Age: 35.
    12. Martavis Bryant, WR, Raiders. Age: 27.
    13. Frostee Rucker, DE, Raiders. Age: 35.
    14. A.J. McCarron, QB, Raiders. Age: 28. — Signed with Texans
    15. Leon Hall, CB, Raiders. Age: 34.
    16. Shilique Calhoun (RFA), DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 27.
    17. Brandon LaFell, WR, Raiders. Age: 32.
    18. T.J. Clemmings, OT, Raiders. Age: 27.
    19. Jon Feliciano, G, Raiders. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills (2 years)
    20. Jacquies Smith, DE, Raiders. Age: 29.
    21. Mike Nugent, K, Raiders. Age: 37.
    22. Damonte Moore, DE, Raiders. Age: 26.
    23. Darren Waller, TE, Raiders. Age: 26.
    24. Gabe Wright, DT, Raiders. Age: 27.
    25. Ahtyba Rubin, DT, Raiders. Age: 33.
    26. Denzelle Good, OT, Raiders. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Raiders (1 year)
    27. Denver Kirland (RFA), G, Raiders. Age: 25.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12