As the season begins to wind down, the Oakland Raiders are finally giving everyone a clear idea of what kind of football team this is. They aren’t elite on either side of the ball but feature enough standout players to give this club some hope for the future. A major area of improvement needs to be done in the wide receiving corps. Fresh faces Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow have shown flashes of greatness, but aren’t the explosive receivers the Raiders need.
Now, they could try and obtain their WR1 in the draft, but that’d be a mistake. The Raiders don’t need another young receiver to try and develop. They need a guy who’s a superstar right now. With several players set to hit the open market in the next few months, here are the three receivers the Raiders must pursue when free agency rolls around.
Wide Receivers Oakland Raiders Must Target in the Off-Season
Turning 33 this upcoming March, some believe he’s beginning to get too up in age to be a team’s true WR1. A look into the stats can tell us this is the furthest thing from the truth. Ever since his targets were heavily increased during his 2013 season in Pittsburgh, he’s been a stud. Emmanuel Sanders captured three consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons and two Pro-Bowl appearances. If his 2017 and 2018 seasons weren’t marred by injuries and pitiful quarterback play, his numbers would look far more impressive.
His move to the San Francisco 49ers has put Sanders right in Oakland’s backyard, so the Raiders better take notice. Though he seems to be enjoying his time in San Francisco, it would be huge if the Raiders managed to draw up a contract and lure him away. After all, he’s the perfect blueprint of what general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden want. Sanders is a high I.Q., high character wide receiver who’s already played with two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning. I can see Sanders being the perfect mentor and leader for this receiving corps. After maybe a two to three-year contract, the rest of the Raiders receivers will have further developed and gained invaluable knowledge along the way.
In the league right now I’m unsure anyone would be able to find someone with a better low-risk, high-reward ratio than Josh Gordon. Despite his concerning past, there’s never been a better time to sign Josh Gordon than after the 2019 season concludes. Back-to-back stints for the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, two of the best-run organizations in football, could do nothing but wonders for both his personal and professional life. If you have any doubts that the Raiders organization is able to keep someone with past substance abuse issues on the right path and help elevate their game, look no further than tight end Darren Waller.
Following various failed drug tests and a season-long suspension in 2017, he has now revitalized his career in Oakland as their go-to tight end. I can see the same in the books for Gordon, who can take the pressure off Tyrell Williams and vice-versa as Gordon transitions into a WR1 role. His unfortunate history allows the Raiders to sign him for cheaper than what someone of his talent would usually demand. With what the Raiders save, they can sign even more pieces to round out this team. The addition of Josh Gordon would give the Raiders the explosiveness they so desperately seek in the vertical game and can give Derek Carr a go-to receiver in the red zone.
I mean, could it be anybody else? Eight seasons into his career, he’s tallied up seven Pro Bowl appearances and six 1,000-yard seasons. This would undoubtedly be eight 1,000-yard seasons if not for a hamstring tear and a toe injury in 2016 and 2018 respectively. A.J. Green being such a stud is just about the only reason the Bengals haven’t been relegated to the XFL yet.
Prior to the deadline, rumors were swirling about where Green might end up, only for the Bengals to lay low and keep him in their back pocket. Green is an unrestricted free agent come 2020, and with the Bengals looking about as good as a spinach and onion smoothie, it’s safe to say he may be on the outs. The Raiders have over $70 million of cap in 2020, plenty of room to sign a player of Green’s caliber. Furthermore, the zero state income taxes in Nevada may just be enough to lure him to the Silver and Black. Green is a great character guy, great locker room guy, and would open up an entirely new dimension to this Raider offense. A receiving corps with Tyrell Williams and A.J. Green, plus Darren Waller at tight end and Josh Jacobs in the backfield? Now that is the offensive makeup of a legitimate playoff team.