The Raiders added a veteran wideout to their practice squad in Keelan Cole Sr.. The 30-year-old spent the majority of the 2022 campaign in Las Vegas, hauling in 10 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown. He was productive in 31 games with the Jaguars and Jets between 2020 and 2021, catching 83 passes for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns.
Cole will be taking the spot held by Antoine Wesley, who earned his walking papers today. The former UDFA got into 15 games for the Cardinals in 2021, finishing with 19 catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
The Raiders signed Jaquan Johnson early during free agency, and there was hope he’d provide some experienced depth to their secondary. Ultimately, the team decided to go in another direction, but that doesn’t mean the safety won’t quickly find another gig elsewhere. Johnson got into 60 games for the Bills over the past four years, including a 2022 campaign where he finished with a career-high 32 tackles and one interception.
On the other side of the ball, the organization moved on from some notable offensive weapons. Keelan Cole Sr. got into 14 games for the Raiders last season, collecting 10 receptions for 141 yards. Phillip Dorsett II joined Las Vegas this offseason after spending the 2022 campaign with the Texans, where he hauled in 20 catches. Damien Williams has close to 500 touches in the NFL, although he only got into one game for the lowly Falcons last season.
It took Keelan Cole a while before he landed a free agency deal in 2022, with the Raiders signing him more than a week after last year’s draft. The team is locking the veteran wide receiver down days into the new league year.
Cole will return to the Raiders on a one-year pact, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Raiders lost auxiliary wideout Mack Hollins to the Falcons on Sunday but will retain Cole, who played a regular role in Josh McDaniels‘ first season at the helm. The team will further add to the back end of its receiver room by signing Cam Sims as well, Ben Standig of The Athletic tweets.
The Raiders have eight-figure-per-year commitments to four skill-position players — Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Jakobi Meyers, Josh Jacobs — so it should be fairly clear where Cole will reside in Jimmy Garoppolo‘s aerial pecking order. The former Jaguars pass catcher is coming off a 10-reception, 141-yard season in the desert. He did add a touchdown — a disputed score against the Patriots that preceded Meyers’ infamous lateral attempt — last season, and Hollins’ departure figures to open up more opportunities.
But the Adams-Renfrow-Meyers setup will effectively cap — barring injury issues — what Cole, Sims and Dorsett will be able to produce in 2023. These additions will, however, create competition for the team’s backup receiver roles.
This will be Cole’s age-30 season. The Division III success story led the AFC championship game-bound Jaguars in receiving yards (748) in 2017, and he posted 642 yards and a career-high five touchdown catches with Jacksonville in 2020.
Cole did not see action on much of Las Vegas’ special teams plays last season, but Sims has been more active in that area recently. The 6-foot-5 ex-Washington contributor played 53% of the Commanders’ ST snaps in 2022. Sims has spent the entirety of his five-year career in Washington. Still struggling to find a higher-end complement to Terry McLaurin in 2020, Washington turned to Sims. The Alabama alum-turned-UDFA caught 32 passes for 477 yards that year and added a seven-catch, 104-yard outing against the Buccaneers in a closer-than-expected wild-card game.
Sims, 27, was not a big part of Washington’s passing game over the past two seasons; he caught eight passes for 89 yards in 2022. But he will follow ex-Commanders OC Scott Turner, who joined the Raiders as the team’s pass-game coordinator this offseason.
The Raiders have been busy today, trading former second-round cornerback Trayvon Mullen to the Cardinals for a conditional seventh-round pick. The Raiders have since completed their 53-man roster, cutting a number of players:
Keelan Cole started 11 of his 15 games for the Jets last season, finishing with 28 receptions for 449 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to serve as an end-of-the-depth-chart option at wide receiver (and in the return game), but he ultimately lost out on the gig to Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner. Wideout Dillon Stoner and Isaiah Zuber were also candidates for the fourth or fifth receiver gig, but they were cut.
Matthias Farley saw time in all 17 games for the Titans last season, finishing with 16 tackles. He has extensive special teams experience, but the Raiders ended up pivoting to younger options to round out their roster, Darius Phillips was also a candidate to contribute on special teams following a 2021 campaign where he returned 25 punts for the Bengals.
We had given Andre James the assumption of starting at center after a successful season at the position last year. We also didn’t grant Good an automatic spot as he is recovering from a torn ACL that held him out for all but 18 snaps of last season. But Tafur and Reed assert that rookie third-round pick Dylan Parham “could push John Simpson at left guard and (James) at center.”
They also believe that Alex Leatherwood doesn’t quite have the right tackle job in the bag. He’s being pushed by Brandon Parker, who started 13 games at the position last year, while Leatherwood occupied a guard spot.
Here are a few more rumors from Sin City:
The addition of star wide receiver Davante Adams provides an obvious No. 1 weapon for quarterback Derek Carr. Carr will have Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to target in the slot and at tight end, respectively, but who will be out wide opposite Adams? That role will be a battle between free agent additions Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, and Demarcus Robinson. According to Tafur and Reed, the former Dolphins wide receiver, Hollins, should be considered the favorite. Though he hasn’t quite shown the necessary production (his best season came last year with 14 catches for 223 yards and 4 touchdowns), Hollins has a large, 6’4″ frame and speed that can make him an effective weapon while defenses focus on Adams, Waller, and Renfrow. Cole has shown more consistent production during tenures in Jacksonville and New York, as has Robinson in Kansas City, but neither quite has the physical tools that Hollins displays. If Hollins can take the next step and make the most of his abilities, Cole and Robinson can be strong assets off the bench behind a starting three of Adams, Renfrow, and Hollins.
Las Vegas didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on running back Josh Jacobs rookie contract this offseason as a result of some of the injury trouble he’s experienced in the NFL. In total, Jacobs has only missed six games throughout his three years of play, but his struggle to stay healthy has limited him in many other games. Due to health, Tafur and Reed see this as Jacobs’ last year on the team. Their opinion is also backed by the draft addition of Georgia running back Zamir White, once considered the top recruit at his position in high school. While the team won’t put too much on White as a rookie, The Athletic guesses that the Raiders will utilize a running back by committee approach. Vegas will lean on Jacobs to lead, as the most talented, while attempting to bring White along and up to NFL-speed. Career third-down back Brandon Bolden and backup Kenyan Drake will continue their usual roles as the Raiders allegedly groom White to start.
The Raiders are adding another prospective Davante Adams complementary piece. Former Jaguars and Jets wideout Keelan Cole will head to Las Vegas on a one-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
Cole will join Adams, Demarcus Robinson and Mack Hollins as Raider receiver additions this offseason. The team still rosters Bryan Edwards, who is going into his third season. Hunter Renfrow is entrenched as Vegas’ slot player. The Raiders did not draft a wideout last month.
A Division II success story, Cole caught on with the Jaguars out of Kentucky Wesleyan in 2017. With Allen Robinson going down early that season, Cole led the Jags with 748 yards as a rookie — for a team that made a surprise venture to the AFC championship game. Cole, 29, has only missed two games throughout his career — both coming last season.
The Jets gave Cole a one-year deal worth $5.5MM last year. Given the timing of this pact, it is unlikely Cole’s Raiders agreement surpasses that price. Cole caught 28 passes for 449 yards and a touchdown with the Jets. He scored a career-high five touchdowns in his Jaguars contract year in 2020.