With the Las Vegas Raiders deciding to replace general manager Mike Mayock with Dave Ziegler this offseason, the team has no loyalty to any players drafted by the previous regime. The team had three first-round picks in 2019 that they used on defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram. Out of the three, Jacobs is the only one to have made a Pro Bowl and keep a consistent starting spot.
As first-round picks, the Raiders have the right to exercise a fifth-year option on the contracts of each of them. However, each player has red flags. Ferrell has 8.0 sacks in three seasons, Abram is a liability in coverage and Jacobs has had a hard time staying healthy. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report discussed the fifth-year options for the Raiders and believes that all three players could be getting bad news this offseason.
“Ferrell has a fifth-year option value of $11.5 million, while Jacobs and Abram have values of $8 million and $7.9 million, respectively. Fifth-year options are fully guaranteed once exercised, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Las Vegas decline all three,” Knox wrote.
He then specifically targeted Ferrell and predicts that the Raiders would be willing to let his contract expire after four seasons.
“Keeping Ferrell at $11.5 million makes no sense, and Las Vegas may be content to let him walk,” Knox wrote.
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Will Ferrell Have Raiders Future Beyond 2022?
The Raiders pulled off a massive surprise when they selected Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft. He was a productive college player at Clemson but many viewed him as a low first-round pick. Ferrell has done little to prove that he should’ve been a first-round pick at all. He’s decent against the run but doesn’t have much pass rush ability.
There’s almost no way the Raiders will pick up his fifth-year option but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a future with the team. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is known for adapting his scheme to his players. Perhaps he could unlock some of the ability Ferrell showed in college. Leonard Williams was another lackluster high draft pick before he joined Graham with the New York Giants. His play improved immediately and he earned a massive contract extension from the team.
Abram May Need to Change Positions
Abram is another player who likely won’t be seeing the fifth year on his contract. He’s a tenacious player and a hard hitter but he just can’t play in pass coverage. If he’s to have a future in Las Vegas, he may need to change his position. Switching to linebacker could be an option. He’s always been a solid run defender and being a linebacker allows him to not drop in coverage as often.
He could also fill a hybrid role where he plays a little safety and a little linebacker. Graham is a creative defensive mind so he could try to figure out a way to make Abram fit. He could also just reduce his role if he doesn’t believe there’s a way he can use him.