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General manager Dave Ziegler has shown he has no problems taking a gamble in his first year running the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders haven’t shied away from making big moves this offseason. Between trading for Davante Adams and handing him a massive new contract or trading away Yannick Ngakoue and replacing him with Chandler Jones in free agency, the Raiders have made big moves.
They’ll need to continue to do so if they want to keep up with the incredibly competitive AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs were already a perennial Super Bowl contender, the Los Angeles Chargers are an ascendant team with Justin Herbert’s continued growth and the Denver Broncos traded for Russell Wilson.
The next avenue for the team to get better is the draft. After trading away their first- and second-round picks to the Packers in the Davante Adams trade, they don’t have much capital left. The Raiders aren’t scheduled to be on the clock until pick No. 86.
So the only way the Raiders could make an instant impact in the draft is to make yet another big move. Here’s a look at three hypotheticals where that could happen.
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Giants Receive: No. 165 overall (fifth round)
Raiders Receive: CB James Bradberry
After watching the Los Angeles Rams build a Super Bowl winner by trading draft picks for proven NFL talent, the Raiders could be looking to take a similar approach.
In this scenario, the Raiders would be filling a need with a player who has demonstrated success under the current coaching staff. The Giants would be getting some much-needed cap relief.
The Raiders have already done a lot to overhaul the cornerback room this offseason. They signed Darius Phillips from Cincinnati and Anthony Averett from Baltimore in addition to trading for Rock-Ya Sin from Indianapolis.
However, Phillips has primarily been a special teamer, and Averett has just one season of being a full-time starter. Bradberry would give them excellent depth and the best group of cornerbacks in a division that features three potentially lethal passing attacks.
Bradberry is just one season removed from a Pro Bowl campaign in 2020.
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Eagles Receive: No. 86 overall (third round)
Raiders Receive: OT Andre Dillard
For all the moves the Raiders have made this offseason, the prospect of running it back with Brandon Parker or Alex Leatherwood at right tackle is scary. They re-signed Parker, and Leatherwood will be back on the second year of his rookie contract.
Parker finished 76th of the 83 tackles Pro Football Focus ranked last season. Leatherwood was moved to right guard after struggling at tackle in his rookie season. He finished 80th of 82 guards.
The Eagles are in an interesting situation with Andre Dillard. The team will have to decide if it wants to use his fifth-year option, which would cost around $11.2 million, just after the draft. With Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson on the roster, Dillard will not start for them this season.
The Raiders could still use a starting tackle, and the odds of them finding a competent one in the third round aren’t great. After all, they learned with Leatherwood that even a first-rounder isn’t guaranteed success right away.
A simple solution for both sides is to send Dillard to the Raiders for a third-round pick. The Eagles get their pick now rather than waiting on the compensatory formula to award them one when he leaves in free agency, and the Raiders get a player with upside to put at right tackle.
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Texans Receive: No. 86 overall (third round), 2023 fourth-round pick
Raiders Receive: WR Brandin Cooks
Just like the Bradberry trade, this would be about loading up in a room that the Raiders have already made major changes to.
Both Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels have familiarity with Brandin Cooks, and he would take an already good receiving corps to the next level. McDaniels and Ziegler were both on the Patriots when Cooks posted a 1,000-yard season in 2017.
Davante Adams is obviously the No. 1 receiver in Las Vegas. Hunter Renfrow is a great slot option, and Bryan Edwards continues to develop.
Those roles could all remain intact while giving Carr a highly productive No. 2 in Cooks. His contract would need to be restructured—his base salary for 2022 is $12.5 million, per Spotrac—but he’s ripe for an extension that would alleviate the cap issues he could bring.
Derek Carr might be the fourth-best quarterback in a division that happens to have two generational talents and an ascendant superstar. The best counter is to load Carr up with as many weapons as possible, and this is a move that is undeniably splashy.