Jakorian Bennett

Raiders Not Planning Free Agent Additions?

With the initial waves of free agency along with the draft having taken place, many teams around the NFL do not have the cap space to make a notable splash this summer. The Raiders have plenty of spending power, but a noteworthy acquisition should not be expected.

[RELATED: Josh Jacobs Confirms No Raiders Talks Occurred Before Packers Deal]

Vegas was one of the teams which executed a post-June 1 release in 2024, moving on from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after one season in Sin City. That created $24MM in cap space, bringing the Raiders’ available funds to roughly $34MM. Rather than committing a portion of that to an immediate addition, the team is planning to keep it for in-season breathing space and future use, Tashan Reed of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

The addition of defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (four years, $110MM) represents the team’s most lucrative outside deal this offseason. Other big-ticket financial moves include the recent acceleration of compensation on edge rusher Maxx Crosby‘s deal and the signing of quarterback Gardner Minshew. A number of veterans remain on the free agent market, but interest from new Raiders GM Tom Telesco does not appear to be high.

As Reed notes, Vegas sees the remaining list of available players as negligible upgrades at positions such as cornerback. Nate Hobbs is set to start in the slot, with Jack Jones in line for a first-team role on the outside. Who will join the latter on the perimeter remains to be seen, but both Reed and Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal write that 2023 Jakorian Bennett has received the most starter’s reps so far this offseason.

By passing on an addition at the CB spot (which could involve the arrival of a player like Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Steven NelsonAdoree’ Jackson or Patrick Peterson), the Raiders will leave funds available for moves at other positions if they become necessary. Poor performance or injuries this summer could require a deal which is not currently deemed necessary. On a larger scale, Reed notes Vegas likely does not see 2024 as the season for a serious run at a Super Bowl, meaning rolling over funds into next year would be a logical approach.

Bonsignore also notes the Raiders should not be expected to aggressively seek out a move with the funds opened up by Garoppolo’s release. Position battles amongst the team’s in-house options will thus be worth watching closely as the rest of the offseason unfolds.

Zamir White Expected To Be Raiders’ RB Starter; Jack Jones ‘Set’ As Starting CB

One of the more eventful days in running back history, transactionally speaking, occurred March 11. More than a third of the league either signed a veteran starter or lost one, with several clubs in both camps. The Raiders ended up only in the first section, losing Josh Jacobs to the Packers hours into the legal tampering period.

More moves affecting 2023 starters occurred soon after, as the Raiders added primary Vikings first-stringer Alexander Mattison a week into free agency. While Mattison worked as Minnesota’s initial Dalvin Cook replacement last year, the Raiders might not be readying a competition to fill the spot Jacobs held for five years.

[RELATED: Raiders’ Josh Jacobs Offer Not Close To Packers’ Proposal]

The Raiders brought in Mattison as a player who will work as a sidekick to Zamir White, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore. White filled in for Jacobs as the Las Vegas starter over the final four games last season. He totaled 100-plus rushing yards in two of those tilts. Two seasons remain on White’s rookie contract, giving him a path to take over as a multiyear option for the Raiders.

The Vikings released Mattison one year into a two-year contract; the Raiders gave him a one-year, $2MM deal. The former third-round pick’s run as Cook’s replacement did not go well. While the Vikings look to have picked the right offseason to jettison Cook, their run game ranked 29th. Mattison averaged 3.9 yards per carry and did not score a rushing touchdown. The Vikings joined the Raiders in investing a 2022 Day 3 pick on a back (Ty Chandler), and Jacobs’ Green Bay arrival led Aaron Jones to Minneapolis. Mattison, 25, fared better as a Cook spot starter in prior years; the Raiders will give him a chance to mix in behind White, who is going into his age-25 season.

Elsewhere on the Las Vegas depth chart, Bonsignore adds Jack Jones is “set” as a starting cornerback. The ex-Patriots draftee is on track to work as one of the Raiders’ boundary starters, with a competition in the works for the role alongside he and slot cog Nate Hobbs. Considering where Jones stood prior to the Raiders claiming him, a route to a clear-cut starting role is interesting.

Jones undoubtedly benefited from ownership’s decision to remove Antonio Pierce‘s interim tag. Pierce coached Jones at both Long Beach Poly High and then at Arizona State. Jones, 26, ran into off-field trouble in college and in the NFL. An arrest for trying to bring a loaded gun onto a plane overshadowed Jones’ 2023 offseason, and the 2022 fourth-round pick fell out of favor with Bill Belichick late last season. The Patriots waived Jones after he had missed curfew in Germany.

The Raiders upped the talented corner’s usage rate shortly after the November waiver claim, using him as a starter over the final three games. Jones delivered a memorable stretch, which included pick-sixes in back-to-back games. A 2022 starter who encountered speedbumps last year — which also featured an IR stint following a September hamstring injury — Jones is on steadier ground with his second NFL team.

The team let Amik Robertson walk (to the Lions) in free agency and did not draft a corner until Round 4. The Raiders used fourth- and seventh-round picks at the position, but the team is planning to have Jones and Hobbs as locked-in starters. Jakorian Bennett and the reacquired Brandon Facyson may be the early leaders for the other boundary CB job, Bonsignore adds, with the rookies (Decamerion Richardson, M.J. Devonshire) in the mix now as well.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Samuel

Although their interest in Dalvin Cook appeared to cool early in the long-running sweepstakes, the Broncos did keep tabs on the high-profile free agent. The team continued to look into Cook, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). Cook has since signed a one-year, $7MM Jets deal. While Pelissero adds the Broncos may look to add another back to a group headlined by Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, the team is sorting through some options behind the veterans. Second-year back Tyler Badie, rookie UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin and ex-Sean Payton Saints charge Tony Jones Jr. are vying for Denver’s RB3 job presently.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders took a few fliers at cornerback in free agency, signing Duke Shelley and David Long and reuniting with Brandon Facyson. None of the trio looks likely to start. Instead, fourth-round pick Jakorian Bennett looks to have leapfrogged them. Shelley and Long have fallen out of the mix to start, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashaun Reed, who project Bennett to start alongside Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs (subscription required). Both Long and Facyson have missed time due to injury in camp. The Raiders chose Bennett 104th overall, which would make a Week 1 starting assignment notable. But the Silver and Black, who let Rock Ya-Sin walk (to replace Peters in Baltimore), came into the offseason with major questions at corner.
  • Despite a three-interception wild-card performance, third-year Chargers corner Asante Samuel Jr. faced the prospect of being a backup to start this season. Ja’Sir Taylor, a sixth-round 2022 draftee, has competed with the multiyear starter for the slot job. But Samuel looks to have surged ahead, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper. If J.C. Jackson completes his recovery from a torn patellar tendon in time, the Chargers are preparing to roll out a Jackson-Samuel-Michael Davis cornerback look. If Jackson needs more time, the Bolts would likely go with a Davis-Samuel-Taylor trio.
  • The Bolts are fairly set at receiver, with Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis‘ Fort Worth-to-Los Angeles treks giving the team five locks at the position. In addition to the TCU alums, Josh Palmer has made strides in his third training camp. This looked to put Jalen Guyton and John Hightower to a battle for the final spot, Popper adds. But both players are dealing with injuries. After a strong start to camp, Hightower — a 2020 Eagles draftee who has not caught a pass since his rookie year — suffered an injury and has not practiced in a week. Guyton, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 3 of last season, remains on the Bolts’ active/PUP list. Stashing the deep threat on the reserve/PUP list to start the season is looking likely, per Popper.
  • K’Waun Williams is expected to be the Broncos‘ slot corner for a second season, but an ankle injury has sidelined him for over a week. The veteran slot defender sought a second opinion on the injury recently, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who notes surgery is not on the docket at this point. A rest-and-rehab operation will be utilized to have Williams ready for Week 1, though this becomes a situation to monitor for a Broncos team that remains without third-round corner Riley Moss. Essang Bassey filled in for Williams as the top nickel in Denver’s preseason opener.
  • Davis Webb resides in the strange position of being a 28-year-old quarterbacks coach tasked with helping a decorated 34-year-old passer bounce back. But Russell Wilson‘s position coach has been on the coaching radar for a bit now, despite only retiring this year. After the Bills wanted him to be their QBs coach last year, Sean McDermott, Brian Daboll and Eli Manning endorsed Webb to Payton, Jori Epstein of Yahoo.com notes. Webb “blew away” Broncos brass in his interview, per GM George Paton. His final season — as a Giants third-stringer — involved scouting and coaching, Epstein adds, making this an easier transition than it would appear.

Raiders Sign CB Jakorian Bennett, Complete Draft Class Signings

With the break between minicamp and training camp now upon them, the Raiders have become the latest team to finish the business of signing all members of their rookie class. Fourth-round cornerback Jakorian Bennett has agreed to terms on his first, four-year, NFL deal, per a team announcement.

Bennett had a three-year career at Maryland, where he teamed with fellow corner Deonte Banks to great effect. The latter drew signficant acclaim during his final season in particular, and was unsurprisingly a first-round selection in April. The former needed to wait much longer to hear his name called, but he will nevertheless enter the NFL with a track record of production as well.

Bennett led the Terrapins in interceptions with three in 2021, and he added 11 pass deflections along the way. That ball production continued into last season, when he notched a pair of picks and again complied 11 PBUs. The Mobile, Alabama native added a blocked field goal to his statline and his overall reviews for being a high-energy player capable of contributing both on defense and special teams.

At 5-11, Bennett does not possess the length many teams seek in a shutdown outside corner, but he should have a path to at least a rotational role early in his career. He joins a Raiders secondary which struggled mightily in 2022, ranking 29th in the NFL against the pass and registering only six interceptions. The team’s cornerback setup has changed as a result, with Brandon Facyson, Duke Shelly and David Long being added in free agency. Free agent Marcus Peters remains unsigned at this point, but a deal with Las Vegas appears to be on the horizon. The latter would add a starter at the CB spot for 2023, but Bennett should make an impact over the course of his Raiders tenure.

Here is the complete breakdown of Vegas’ 2023 draft class:

Round 1, No. 7: Tyree Wilson, LB (Texas Tech) (signed)
Round 2, No. 35 (from Colts): Michael Mayer, TE (Notre Dame) (signed)
Round 3, No. 70: Byron Young, DT (Tennessee) (signed)
Round 3, No. 100 (from Chiefs through Giants): Tre Tucker, WR (Cincinnati) (signed)
Round 4, No. 104 (from Texans): Jakorian Bennett, CB (Maryland) (signed)
Round 4, No. 135 (from Patriots): Aidan O’Connell, QB (Purdue) (signed)
Round 5, No. 170 (from Packers through Jets): Christopher Smith, S (Georgia) (signed)
Round 6, No. 203 (from Texans through Giants): Amari Burney, LB (Florida) (signed)
Round 7, No. 231 (from Patriots): Nesta Jade Silvera, DT (Arizona State) (signed)