Figuring out who will be the next general manager and head coach will be the two biggest decisions the Las Vegas Raiders need to make this offseason. Third on the list should be what to do with the offensive line. Outside of Kolton Miller, the group was inconsistent and struggled greatly in pass blocking. Center Andre James improved as the season went on so he’s likely earned the starting job for next season.
Right tackle and both guard spots will need to be addressed this offseason. Denzelle Good will be returning from injury and is under contract for next season. He’ll be considered for one of the starting guard spots but whoever the next head coach is may prefer to keep him as a backup. 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood could get a chance to start at right tackle depending on who’s coaching but he didn’t show great signs this season.
Regardless, the Raiders will have at least one or two openings on the offensive line. Pro Football Focus believes that the team should pursue Jacksonville Jaguars free agent guard Andrew Norwell:
Norwell is as solid as pass-blocking guards come, never having finished a season with a pass-block grade below 70.0 — an impressive streak now entering his ninth season. At just 30 years old, Norwell still has good football ahead of him, and he may have something to prove after agreeing to a pay cut from the Jaguars before the 2021 season.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was used to longtime stalwart left guard Richie Incognito protecting him, but age and health finally caught up to him. Norwell would be a great replacement.
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Norwell Is a Former All-Pro
Norwell would make a lot of sense if the Raiders aren’t looking to spend big on an offensive guard. He was making an average of $13.3 million a year on his last contract but likely won’t be making that kind of money on the next contract. The 2017 First-team All-Pro hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl or named to an All-Pro team since he signed a big contract with the Jaguars.
That isn’t to say that his play has fallen off a ton. He’s still a very good guard and excels in pass coverage. He’d be a smart addition for the Raiders if the contract is in the $5 million range.
Is Richie Incognito Done?
One of the big mistakes the Raiders made this offseason was expecting left guard Richie Incognito to stay healthy for any portion of the season. The former Pro Bowler got hurt in training camp and never recovered. That was a big blow to the team as he was named a team captain and was still one of the best guards in the game when he did play. Having him would’ve made the offensive line issues a lot less obvious.
At 38-years-old, it seems likely that Incognito is heading towards retirement. It’s not the way he would’ve liked to go out but the Raiders can’t rely on him again. He’s played a total of two games over the last two seasons and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be able to stay healthy next year. He was a good soldier for the team in 2019 but it could be time to hang up the cleats.