Raiders have 2nd most cap space heading into 2022 NFL season

Raiders head into the season with the 2nd most cap space in NFL. But will they spend it?

The 2022 NFL season opens today when the Rams and Bills square off on Thursday Night Football. The Raiders will take the field on Sunday against the rival Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood California.

Usually when the season is upon us, the roster is set. You have spent all offseason, training camp, and preseason getting to know these players and they have been learning the scheme. But if even then, there are weak areas, looking to free agency might be the smartest move.

If the Raiders wish to do it, they have the money to make it happen. The second most cap space in the NFL to be exact.

Only the Browns ($37.9M) have more cap space than the Raiders ($16.17M).

There is a glaringly obvious area in which the Raiders could stand to spend some money — the offensive line.

Not only is it the weakest unit on the team, the Raiders spend less money on it than 30 other teams. Yes, they spend the second least amount on the offensive line in the league.

One benefit to waiting until after the season opener to spend that money is contract are no longer guaranteed after that. So, they can feel more comfortable taking a player they deem to be a risk.

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Raiders host veteran LB Jamie Collins on free agent visit

Veteran LB Jamie Collins visits Raiders

It would appear the Raiders’ linebacker room is set for the start of the season. But it seems they might still be looking to bulk up the unit. Wednesday they hosted former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins on a free agent visit according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

This is just a visit and it may not lead to a signing. The 32-year-old started just four games in 12 appearances last season with the Patriots and Lions.

Since making the Pro Bowl in 2015, Collins has bounced around the league a bit. He spent two and a half seasons with the Browns, then returned to sign back with the Patriots for a season, then spent a bit over a season in Detroit  before again signing back with the Patriots.

To his credit, it was just a season ago that Collins put up 101 combined tackles in 14 games with the Lions at the age of 31. If he can show the Raiders coaching staff — made up mostly of former Patriots coaches — that he’s still got something left in the tank, there could be room for him in Las Vegas.

Former Raiders RB Kenyan Drake catches on with Ravens

Former Raiders RB Kenyan Drake catches on with Ravens

One of the surprise early cuts by the Raiders, Kenyan Drake figured to find another team that wanted to take him on. On the same days as teams around the NFL made their final roster cuts, the Ravens added Drake to their backfield.

Drake had been hinting at the move since yesterday. First when he tweeted EST (Eastern Standard Time) and a plane landing emoji.

 

Then five minutes later, that he hadn’t had a real winter since he entered the league, having played in three warm weather cities in Miami, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. The Georgia native attended Alabama for college, so, technically he’s never played football at any level in a city with real winters.

Then today the purple devil emoji soon after reports came out of his impending signing.

Drake spent just one season with the Raiders. He was a questionable signing from the jump. Then he was used somewhat sparingly, especially considering the sizable contract he got.

This offseason, he agreed to a restructured deal, then saw the Raiders draft two running backs and sign two more. These moves made him feel like the new coaching staff had no intention of keeping him and thus didn’t appear to be putting forth much effort in the preseason. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Raiders releasing veteran CB Darius Phillips

CB Darius Phillips first big surprise cut of Raiders cutdown day

It’s final cutdown day and the first surprise cut by the Raiders has come down. They are releasing veteran cornerback Darius Phillips according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The former Bengals fifth round pick was added this offseason and was seen as initially as solid depth with the possibility of competing for a starting job.

Phillips spent the first four years of his career in Cincinnati, appearing in 47 games with 10 starts. He had five interceptions and 23 pass breakups in his career.

Ultimately, he was passed up by Anthony Averett, while it appears Trayvon Mullen will return to his starting duties along with Nate Hobbs and Rock Ya-Sin. Phillips was also competing for kick return duties.

Others vying for a spot on the roster at cornerback include former fourth round pick Amik Robertson and undrafted rookie Sam Webb.

All final cuts become official at 1pm Pacific (4pm ET).

Raiders WR Davante Adams lands at No. 7 in NFL Top 100

Davante Adams finally hears his name called at No. 7 in NFL Top 100

You knew we’d have to wait a while before we heard Davante Adams’s name called in the NFL Top 100 players list. Tonight they counted all the way down and, as you would expect, Adams landed in the single digits. He came in at No. 7 as voted on my his peers.

Yes, Adams finished just ahead of Patrick Mahomes and three spots ahead of Mahomes’s top target Travis Kelce (10).

Here is how the full top ten shook out:

1. QB Tom Brady
2. DT Aaron Donald
3. QB Aaron Rodgers
4. WR Cooper Kupp
5. RB Jonathan Taylor
6. DE T.J. Watt
7. WR Davante Adams
8. QB Patrick Mahomes
9. CB Jalen Ramsey
10. TE Travis Kelce

Adams becomes the fifth current Raiders player to land in this year’s NFL Top 100. There others were:

58. TE Darren Waller
59. DE Maxx Crosby
62. DE Chandler Jones
65. QB Derek Carr

Adams is not the highest ranked Raiders player ever. That would go to Kalil Mack who was ranked at 5 overall in 2017.

Adams, of course, has been arguably the league’s best receiver the past few years, even though he’s the second ranked wide receiver on this list. He put up huge numbers with third ranked Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. We’ll see if he can continue to be ranked among the best with college teammates and 65th ranked Derek Carr throwing him passes now.

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Tashawn Bower, Malcolm Koonce give Raiders reason to feel good about edge rusher depth

Raiders have to come out of Friday night feeling pretty confident in their depth behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones

If Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones aren’t the best pass rushing duo in the NFL, they’re very close to it. But for the Raiders, the question was what about behind them? What about when they need a breather or in the event one of them is lost to injury. Who steps in or steps up?

Throughout the preseason, the answer has developed slowly, and as of Friday night’s final preseason game against the Patriots, the answer is clear — it’s Malcolm Koonce and Tashawn Bower. And both of the gave the Raiders every reason to feel pretty good about that.

Bower in particular, had two sacks on the night, which, added to his previous total, gives him four sacks this preseason. I asked him how he felt about the position he put himself in as far as being the next man up after Crosby and Jones.

“I feel like I’ve done a good job, but I’m going to let the coaches decide that,” said Bower. “We have a lot of other good players too who can do great things, so whatever I can do to fit in in my role and have a piece on this defense or on this team, I’m ready to accept it.”

Bower has bounced around some in his career, first signing with the Vikings undrafted free agent out of LSU and then spending a couple seasons with the Patriots as well. In both instances, bouncing back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster.

Koonce is entering his second season after being selected in the third round of the 2021 draft. He has been getting good pressure all preseason and added his second sack Friday night. He also had another play that he got pressure to force his man to draw a holding penalty to keep him from blowing up the play.

It’s important to note, these weren’t the Patriots’ second and third team players they were going against. Bower and Koonce did much of their damage against the Patriots’ first team offense.

“That just shows our depth,” said Koonce. “Everybody plays hard, so it’s great to go against a starting offense and produce.”

What this means for Clelin Ferrel is less certain. The former top pick was injured most of camp and returned last week. In the practices since, and even before that, he was bounced around as the team tries to find a place where he can thrive, At this point it doesn’t look like that position exists.

The team might have held onto him regardless had they not been able to find production from anyone else. And it’s certainly possible they will hold onto Ferrell, if for no other reason than cutting him would come with a sizable amount of dead money left behind.

Most importantly, though, the play of Koonce and Bower could remove the part of the Ferrell dilemma that involves whether they have proper depth at defensive end.

Mack Hollins talents shining through in true open competition at receiver in Las Vegas

Mack Hollins has been given a real opportunity with Raiders. He’s grabbed ahold and ran away with it.

Day two of joint practices with the Patriots saw more of the same from Davante Adams. The All Pro receiver lit up Patriots defenders once again for several touchdowns. That’s what we expect from him. More of a surprise has been the emergence of Mack Hollins.

The fifth year receiver had a couple big time touchdown catches of his own in Wednesday’s practice versus Patriots defenders. 

The first came on the next play right after Derek Carr found Adams for a long touchdown up the right sideline. Hollins said ‘I can do that’ and beat his man on a post route for a long score.

Adams had a couple jump ball fade touchdowns in seven-on-sevens, so a bit later Hollins showed his corner-of-the-endzone abilities running a corner route and making an over-the-shoulder grab.

It’s fun to watch these two work. While there’s no mistaking one for the other in terms of talent level, you’d never guess they have had such vastly different careers. It’s all Hollins can do to emulate Adams in an attempt to see a fraction of the targets Adams gets.

“He’s a great resource to use,” Hollins said of Adams. “Because he don’t miss. He really don’t miss. It’s crazy. And in my mind, I’m like ‘I’m going to do that same move,’ and then I do it and it doesn’t work like that. Because I’m not Davante and Davante’s not me. So, learning how to take the little knowledge that he gives me and turn it into my game and use it for my game is big and going back to having extra days, that’s extra days sitting next to him and just hearing how breaks down one-on-one and hearing how he breaks down a defense or leverage of a defender. That’s been big for my game.”

Even bigger for Hollins’ chances to break out with the Raiders has been the situation he entered into with the new coaching staff.

Hollins came over as a free agent this offseason with a grand total of eight career starts. He entered an open competition for the third receiver spot this offseason with several other receivers, many of whom have quite a few more career starts than him.

A lot of coaches *say* there’s an open competition at a position when there really isn’t. In the end they just go back to the guys they liked before the supposed competition began. Jon Gruden was notorious for that.

Based on what we’ve seen thus far in the Josh McDaniels era, when he says open compeition, he really means it.

Mack Hollins is proof of that. He’s taken full advantage of his opportunity and put himself in position to potentially start for this team.

“A big reason why I came to Las Vegas was to have an opportunity to compete as a receiver as well as in the kicking game,” said Hollins. “So, every day, I came out it was a competition. I continue to do that. I don’t think any spot is locked at all except number 17 (Davante Adams) and number 13 (Hunter Renfrow). Every other role after that is competed for every day. All I can do is compete for them.”

One of the others who were initially in the competition – Demarcus Robinson – was released, The others who will be playing roles in the offense are Tyron Johnson and Keelan Cole. All of whom bring something different to the table.

What Hollins seems to have done is prove to the staff that he brings enough versatility and playmaking ability to consistently run with the first team and earn more looks.

He said he hasn’t discovered anything new in his game that has put him in this position. Which, if that’s true, suggests it was this coaching staff who discovered his abilities. It’s a credit to him that he was able to take full advantage of it.

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Kenyan Drake speaks out about lack of ‘fair shot’ after cut ‘either way Raiders have to pay me’

Kenyan Drake unloads on Raiders following his release, saying he ‘never had a fair shot’ and ‘either way Raiders have to pay me’

The news has come out the Raiders are moving on from Kenyan Drake after just a year with the team. And Drake is speaking up about it.

He spoke to Josina Anderson and had a few very pointed things to say about being released by the new staff:

Let’s pick through the more interesting parts of what Drake had to say here.

“Either way Raiders have to pay me”

That is quite a statement. I mean, he’s right, but it definitely isn’t something you hear guys say too often. And I could see how other teams could potentially be put off by that and be less likely to spend more money on him.

“there really wasn’t a role for me to have anymore because they had guys that they brought in, they traded for & I was kind of odd man out.”

It’s possible this is true. It’s also possible he saw all the additions and let it get to him so much that his effort was that of someone who had one foot out the door. He certainly didn’t look this preseason like someone playing for a roster spot either on this team or any other. Just unwise if he really thinks he can catch on somewhere else.

“I’m at peace”

He said this multiple times. But the words surrounding it suggest the contrary.

The best case scenario is if other teams give him the benefit of the doubt on a lot of this. That would mean he is not at peace, but in so much as he is angry about his time with the Raiders. That he is eager to prove he is better than the production he has put on the field, either this preseason or throughout last season when he was basically wasted as a gadget player.

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Raiders place DE Jordan Jenkins on injured reserve, sign LB Tae Davis

Raiders sign LB Tae Davis, placed Jordan Jenkins on IR

Two days.

That’s the length of time between when Jordan Jenkins signed with the Raiders and when he was lost to injury.

Jenkins joined the Raiders on Thursday of last week. And in Saturday’s game he went down with a leg injury and was helped off the field. Now the team has sent him to injured reserve, ending his 2022 season.

To fill the vacancy on the roster, the team added linebacker Tae Davis.

Most recently, Davis was with the Houston Texans. He spent the 2021 season on injured reserve and was in Texans’ camp this year before being waived this weekend.

Davis spent last game action came in Cleveland in 2020, appearing in 13 games, mostly playing on special teams, with 25 combined defensive snaps.

The fourth year linebacker entered the league with the New York Giants in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Chatanooga. He appeared in 14 games with four starts with the Giants as a rookie, putting up two sacks, four QB hits, and 33 tackles that season.

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Report: Raiders to release RB Kenyan Drake

Report: Raiders to release RB Kenyan Drake

Something seemed fishy about Kenyan Drake playing so many snaps in the team’s third preseason game on Saturday. And it seems we’ve found the smell. The team will release the veteran running back according to ESPN’s Tom Pelissero.

No doubt the team has been attempting to trade the veteran running back, just as they did Nick Mullens Monday morning. Thus the reason this news is out there for any teams who would like to jump in and snap him up before he hits the open market.

Drake never lived up to the contract he received from Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock last offseason. He was given a chance to distinguish himself this preseason, but did not and thus sees his time with the Raiders come to an end after just one season.

Both young backs the Raiders picked up in this year’s draft — Zamier White and Brittain Brown — considerably outplayed Drake. That and the additions of Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah just made it a numbers game with Drake being the odd man out.

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