With 2021 NFL Draft season in full swing, the height of free agency seems to be winding down to a whisper. As things stand today, some big names still remain on the market. Then again, players who have already re-signed or relocated have fans quite excited for this upcoming year. For the Las Vegas Raiders, their free agent signings look to make an immediate impact. Trying to mend a 26th ranked defense and 24th ranked offense in 2020, head coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock have recruited fresh talent this off-season, as they look to contend. With the urgency to win in Las Vegas mounting, these newly signed candidates look poised to contribute day one in the Silver and Black.
Las Vegas Raiders Free Agent Signings Set to Make Immediate Impact
Raiders Defensive Free Agent Signings
Right off of the bat, 26-year-old defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is the biggest off-season acquisition the Raiders have made so far. After being traded twice in a calendar year, Ngakoue now looks to find stability in Vegas after signing a two-year, $26 million deal. Despite bouncing around, Ngakoue still managed a sound year, notching eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 15 games played. As for the Raiders, who only pressured opposing quarterbacks at a 28% clip, they will be a welcoming home for the journeyman pass rusher.
The most recent signing for the Raiders is a familiar face in safety Karl Joseph. The Raiders drafted Joseph at 14th overall in 2016, and let him head to the Cleveland Browns last off-season. Joseph put together a solid outing in 2020 totaling 67 tackles, four pass deflections, and an interception. Now a 27-year-old veteran, Joseph will bring leadership and familiarity to a young Las Vegas defense.
Raiders Offensive Free Agent Signings
Defense isn’t the only area the Raiders sought to improve in free agency. The offense backed a hot 6-3 start but declined to 24th in the league as Las Vegas finished 8-8. Gruden and Mayock seem to be content with Derek Carr and will move forward with the quarterback, giving him new weapons in the receiving corps.
John Brown, nicknamed “Smoke” for his speed down the field, joins an already quick group of pass-catchers. His burner ability will be sure to attract attention from opposing safeties. Only tallying three touchdowns in a banged-up 2020 campaign, Brown looks to have more production on a one-year,$3.75 million deal. Willie Snead, another receiver signing, joins the Raiders at a cheaper price of $1.1 million for one year. A possession-first player, Snead brings a bigger body to the small, quick group and could be a third-down or red-zone target for Carr.
While Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs produced last year, depth at the position must have been a concern for Gruden. In comes Kenyan Drake on a two-year, $11 million contract from Arizona to bolster a unit that put up 1,900 yards in 2020. On his own in 2020, Drake posted 900 yards and ten touchdowns for the Cardinals. Joining up with Jacobs for the Raiders could form a fierce running back duo.
As Gruden and Mayock head into year four, pressure is building for them to win. Without a doubt, this puts emphasis on these free agent signing to succeed right away. And if they do, Las Vegas could be riding right into the postseason. If not, however, Gruden and Mayock could be facing the hot seat going into 2022.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images