Jon Gruden's second go-round as head coach of the Raiders has yielded mixed results. After inheriting a team that was in ruins, Gruden went 4-12 during his first year back on the sidelines. The Raiders were significantly better during the last two seasons, despite major drop-offs during the final quarter of the season. The '19 Raiders finished 7-9 after a 6-4 start. Last year's team was 6-3 before winning just two of its final seven games.
Depth has been the main reason for the Raiders' late-season collapses. Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have put together a solid roster, but rounding out the squad with better talent is a must if the Raiders are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Specifically, Mayock and Gruden will look to strength Las Vegas' pass rush, interior defensive line, and safety positions during the 2021 offseason. The Raiders are still in search of a replacement for Khalil Mack, who has continued to rack up stats and individual accolades in Chicago.
One player who will almost certainly be back for the 2021 season is quarterback Derek Carr, who recently received a vote of confidence from Mayock and several of his teammates.
"I think Derek Carr had his best year yet, under Jon Gruden," Mayock said, via ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "I think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and we're happy with him. ... I think Jon Gruden and I would stand shoulder to shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr."
This is your one-stop destination for everything involving the Raiders' 2021 offseason. Over the next several months, we'll update this story with all prevalent information regarding the silver and black. Those updates will include schedule announcements, player transactions, draft news, and other relevant information.
Key upcoming dates
- March 9: Teams have until this date to franchise tag players.
- March 15-17: Legal negotiating window ahead of free agency.
- March 17: The NFL's new league year begins. At 4 p.m. EST, free agents can begin meeting with and signing with new teams.
- April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with incumbent coaches.
- April 23: Last day of the restricted free agent signing period.
- April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for restricted free agents.
- April 29-May 1: 2021 NFL Draft.
Unrestricted in-house free agents
DT Johnathan Hankins
OLB Nicholas Morrow
DE Takkarist McKinley
S Erik Harris
T Denzelle Good
CB Nevin Lawson
TE Derek Carrier
WR Zay Jones
OLB Kyle Wilber
ILB Raekwon McMillan
LT Sam Young
RB Devontae Booker
WR Nelson Agholor
RB Theo Riddick
CB Daryl Worley
DE Vic Beasley
ILB Ukeme Eligwe
DE Jeremiah Valoaga
CB D.J. Killings
The Raiders' cap space is currently estimated at $7.2 million, according to Over the Cap. That number will surely rise between now and the start of free agency, as the Raiders are expected to let the majority of their free agents enter the open market. Possible free agent options for the Raiders include inside linebacker Josh Bynes, outside linebacker John Simon, and free safety Tashaun Gipson.
Unrestricted free agents signings from other teams
2021 NFL Draft picks
The Raiders currently have seven picks in this year's draft, but that number could rise after the league announces its compensatory picks. Las Vegas owns the 17th overall pick in this year's draft, a pick that most draft experts believe the Raiders will spend on a defensive player. Among the players the Raiders may select with this pick include Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Alabama defensive lineman Christian Barmore, Miami defensive lineman Jaelan Phillips, or Miami pass rusher Gregory Rousseau. That being said, don't be surprised if the Raiders take a receiver with the pick if reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith is still available.
Rumors, reports and updates
March 3: Darren Waller joined Alec Ingold in singing Derek Carr's praises, but stipulated the Raiders "have to make the playoffs." Waller told the NFL Network, "I have all the belief in the world in Derek Carr. I have ever since I got here. I still do to this day. I think he's a guy that can take us everywhere we want to go."
March 2: Derek Carr received a vote of confidence from teammate Alec Ingold. "It's the general belief that Derek Carr isn't the guy," Ingold told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "That doesn't make sense to me. I just don't understand it. Because he is the guy. In our locker room, there is a sense of pride that we have our guy and we're gonna ride with our guy. That is what bothers me more than anything. I can't understand how anybody isn't ecstatic to have this guy as the quarterback. By the way he plays. By the way he competes. By the way he leads. There is a sense of confidence around here that Derek Carr is our quarterback."
Despite the rumors, Carr, who has two years remaining on his current contract, is slated to be the team's starting quarterback in 2021. In three years with Gruden, Carr has thrown 67 touchdowns against just 27 intersections. In 2020, Carr threw for over 4,000 yards for a third consecutive year. He also threw 27 touchdowns (his highest total since 2016) and just nine interceptions.
February 24: Las Vegas released receiver Tyrell Williams midway through his four-year contract. Williams, who caught six touchdowns during his first season with the Raiders, missed the entire 2020 season with a torn labrum.
February 10: The Raiders are "very interested" in signing veteran receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, according to ESPN Radio host John Clayton. As stated above, the Raiders have other needs, but Gruden and Mayock would be wise to give Carr a veteran receiver, especially if Nelson Agholor departs in free agency. Smith-Schuster would be a valuable addition to a Raiders receiving corps that includes Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller and receivers Hunter Renfrow and Henry Ruggs III.