A year ago, Jon Gruden's second season during his second go-around with the Raiders was off to a promising start. The Raiders were 6-4 and firmly embedded in the AFC playoff picture before injuries appeared to take their toll, and they won just one of their final six games to finish 7-9.
The 2020 Raiders, buoyed by an offense that scored 34 points in each of the first two games, started 2-0, including an impressive win over the Saints. The Raiders have hit several speed bumps following their fast start, however, as they have dropped two out of their last three games. And while their 3-3 record has them again entrenched in the AFC playoff picture, it appears that the Raiders will need some reinforcements if they are going to end their four-year playoff drought.
Like last season, injuries have again been part of the Raiders' story in 2020. Among the Raiders' notable players who have suffered injuries are receiver Tyrell Williams (who will miss the entire season with a shoulder injury), defensive tackle Daniel Ross, rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, linebacker Tanner Muse, center Richie Incognito, offensive tackle Sam Young, and receiver Bryan Edwards.
With the NFL's Nov. 3 trade deadline looming, here are three players the Raiders should consider adding to their roster in order to strengthen their playoff odds.
A lifetime Eagle, the 32-year-old Graham is off to the best start of his career. Through seven games, the 11-year veteran has recorded six sacks and is on pace for a career-high 14 sacks. While acquiring him would be costly (Philadelphia would likely want a Day 2 draft pick for him), Graham would be an immediate upgrade for a defense that has recorded just seven sacks thus far. Would the Eagles, who at 2-4-1 are in first place in the NFC East, consider trading Graham? Graham's age, along with the fact that he is due $17.91 million next season, make the Eagles trading him a possibility, along with the fact that Philadelphia has two promising young defensive ends in Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett.
If Graham is not available for trade, the Raiders are not out of options. Carlos Dunlap, an 11-year veteran with 82.5 career sacks under his belt, appears to have fallen out of favor with the Bengals' coaching staff. Cincinnati is reportedly seeking to trade the veteran pass rusher.
After Houston traded away DeAndre Hopkins, the expectation was that Stills, who caught 40 passes and four touchdowns during his first season in Houston, would have an elevated role in the Texans' offense in 2020. That has not been the case, however, as Stills has caught just 10 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown through seven games. One would expect that the Texans would gladly accept a late round draft pick for Stills, who no longer appears to be in Houston's longterm plans.
The 28-year-old Stills has put up decent numbers while playing in three different NFL cities. As a rookie with the Saints, Stills led the NFL in average yards per catch. A perennial No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, Stills has been fairly consistent throughout his career; he averaged 43 receptions for 672 yards and five touchdowns during the first seven years of his career.
Stills would likely help boost a Raiders' offense that could use more production from their receivers. Newcomer Nelson Agholor is the team's leading receiver with just 292 yards, while second-year wideout Hunter Renfrow has caught just 21 passes after a promising rookie season. And while he is averaging 26.5 yards per catch, rookie Henry Ruggs III has caught just eight passes on 14 targets through seven games. Adding a veteran receiver to the offense could help elevate the offense while helping open up things for Josh Jacobs (who is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry) and the running game.
Another option here could be Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has reportedly been on the trading block in Philadelphia. The Eagles are likely motivated to trade Jeffrey, as they would save about $5 million if they can trade him before the deadline. Considering the position the Eagles are in with Jeffery (who has yet to play this season), the Raiders likely wouldn't have to surrender much in terms of assets to acquire the former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl LII champion.
Las Vegas needs help in the secondary. Through seven games, the Raiders' defense is 28th in the league in passing yards allowed, 26th in third down efficiency and 24th in red zone efficiency. These numbers won't cut it if the Raiders are going to make a serious push to make the playoffs. The Jets, who are in the midst of a disastrous season, have already started to part with several talented players in exchange for more cap space and future draft picks. While it would likely cost them an early Day 3 draft pick, Poole, a versatile player who has seen time at linebacker, cornerback and safety during his five-year career, would be a much-needed addition to the Raiders' defense. The 28-year-old Poole is enjoying a solid start to his 2020 season. Through seven games, he has recorded two interceptions, six passes defensed, a sack and 38 tackles for the Jets.
Another Jets player the Raiders could possibly pursue is linebacker Avery Williamson, who, along with Poole, has been among the few bright spots in what has been a dismal season for the Jets. The 28-year-old, seven-year veteran is in the middle of a three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed in 2018. A fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Williamson spent his first four season with the Titans before signing with the Jets two years ago. In 84 career regular season games (79 starts), Williamson has tallied 546 tackles, 14.5 sacks, four interceptions, 17 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. While he is not the best in pass coverage, the 6-foot-1, 246-pound Williamson is a solid tackler who has a knack for being around the ball.