Las Vegas Raiders free agent targets 2024, including star defender

Author:
Sportsnaut

The Las Vegas Raiders kicked off the offseason by retaining head coach Antonio Pierce and hiring general manager Tom Telesco. While many are focused on the 2024 NFL Draft, we’re highlighting top Raiders free agent targets who could be pursued in NFL free agency.

Las Vegas is relatively well-positioned to add talent this offseason. While it will lose some cap space if running back Josh Jacobs is signed, there are still plenty of great options out there at positions of need that can be prioritized. With that in mind, before NFL free agency opens, here’s the Raiders cap space situation in 2024.

  • Las Vegas Raiders cap space 2024: $42.035 million

Now, let’s dive into our Raiders free agent targets.

Jacoby Brissett, quarterback

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Most fans would prefer to see Las Vegas get aggressive, trading up for one of the top picks in the 2024 NFL Draft order to snag a franchise quarterback. However, the downside of that move is it would likely cost Las Vegas its 2025 first-round pick and any rookie quarterback isn’t turning this team into an AFC contender immediately. So, we suggest staying put and finding a quarterback in NFL free agency who can get more out of this offense.

  • Jacoby Brissett stats (2022-’23): 92.6 QB rating, 15-6 TD-INT, 64.8% completion rate, 7.2 yards per attempt, 2,832 passing yards

As a fill-in starter for the Cleveland Browns in 2022, Brissett was highly effective and outplayed Deshaun Watson. Washington didn’t allow him to compete with Sam Howell for the starting job last season, but when he finally replaced him, the veteran quarterback averaged 9.74 yards per attempt. The 31-year-old has demonstrated that he can be an effective and affordable starter for a year, most importantly he is an upgrade over Aidan O’Connell.

With other teams focused on the likes of Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins in NFL free agency, Las Vegas can likely land Brissett at a bargain. There’s a strong case to be made that he’s also a more cost-effective option than trading for Justin Fields and he’ll certainly fit better in Luke Getsy’s offense. With this signing, the Raiders could use their 2024 picks to build out the roster and then address quarterback in 2025.

Bryce Huff, edge rusher

Syndication: The Record
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Top edge rushers like Josh Allen and Brian Burns are going to be franchise-tagged. Once that happens, the cost of acquiring them becomes a top-45 pick followed by a deal making them one of the highest-paid NFL players. That’s not a price the Raiders’ front office can justify paying right now given the needs on its roster and the need for long-term cap flexibility.

Bryce Huff is an ascending player and the New York Jets already announced he won’t be tagged. It makes him a viable option in NFL free agency, especially when you compare his numbers to some of the other top pass rushers. In 2023, Huff finished with the ninth-highest ESPN pass rush win rate (22 percent) among edge rushers, better than Burns (21 percent), Chase Young (19 percent) and Trey Hendrickson (21 percent). Keep in mind, that Huff faced a double-team rate (15 percent) that was higher than Burns (14 percent) and Young (12 percent), too.

Huff is entering his age-26 season, making him an ideal fit for a defense with Tyree Wilson (24), Maxx Crosby (26), Malcolm Koonce (26) and Robert Spillane (28) entering the 2024 season. Plus, he recorded 67 pressures and 10 sacks last season.

Chidobe Awuzie, cornerback

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
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Just like with edge rushers, fans aren’t going to see the top cornerbacks become available in NFL free agency. The Chicago Bears aren’t letting Jaylon Johnson leave and landing L’Jarius Sneed means trading premium draft capital to the Kansas City Chiefs. That is, if the Chiefs are willing to move him within the division at all.

Chidobe Awuzie tore his ACL during the 2022 season and while he returned to the field last year, the expectation is players are still shaking the rust off in their first season back. Before knee surgery, the 6-foot cornerback held opponents to a 58.2 percent completion rate and 75.1 QB rating when targeted in 2021. In the months leading up to his ACL tear in 2022, opponents managed just a 38 percent completion rate and 53.4 QB rating when targeting him in coverage. Entering his age-29 season, the California native could thrive in Las Vegas and fill a major void in the Raiders’ secondary.

Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins
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It would be unjust to have this much cap space and only highlight cost-effective Raiders free agent targets who won’t break the bank. However, the strategy behind that approach is to create financial flexibility both in 2024 and long-term so the Raiders can land one of the best players available.

  • Christian Wilkins stats (career): 50 QB hits, 43 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks

Christian Wilkins is simply one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. He posted one of the highest ESPN pass-rush win rates (13 percent) among defensive tackles, while netting career-highs in QB hits (23) and sacks (nine) this past season. Plus, Wilkins is an above-average run defender. Las Vegas will need to offer Wilkins a multi-year contract worth at least $24 million per season, but our more cost-effective Raiders free agent targets make it easier to offer that deal.

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