The Raiders trading previous cornerstones Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper gave them a prime opportunity in the 2019 draft. Three years later, each of the first-round picks from that draft will enter a contract year.
New Raiders GM Dave Ziegler confirmed Friday the team is declining the fifth-year options on Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell. All are on track for free agency in 2023. Although the Raiders’ Jon Gruden–Mike Mayock regime hit on Day 3 picks Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow, their 2019 offseason — which featured misses on Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner and Tyrell Williams — contributed to the franchise’s change of direction.
Mack’s departure did the most to hurt the 2018 squad, which finished with a staggering 13 sacks. That led to the Raiders’ own 2019 first-rounder coming in at No. 4 overall. Ferrell, viewed as a reach at 4 when taken, has not panned out. The Clemson product has eight sacks in three seasons, and one-and-done defensive coordinator Gus Bradley slashed the defensive end’s snap rate to 24% in 2021.
Jacobs, the pick obtained via the Mack trade, has been by far the best of the three 2019 first-rounders. The Alabama alum was eligible for the Tier 2 option price ($8MM) because of his 2020 Pro Bowl nod. Although Jacobs’ passing-game usage spiked in 2021 (54 receptions), Ziegler and Josh McDaniels put the three-year starter on track for free agency. Jacobs averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 2019 and finished second to Kyler Murray for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he finished that season and the 2020 campaign on IR. Jacobs, however, finished strong in 2021 and was instrumental in Las Vegas qualifying for the playoffs.
Chosen 27th overall (the Cooper slot), Abram missed almost all of his rookie season because of a Week 1 injury. He still started 27 games from 2020-21 and made 116 tackles last season. A late-December labrum tear ended Abram’s 2021 season, however. Patrick Graham will be his third DC in three years.