The Raiders are 1-0, already a game up on the rest of the AFC West. It would be prudent to point out that we are just 1/17 of the way though the NFL schedule, but then, who wants to be prudent? Maybe now is a time for the Raiders to go for some gusto.
One player who could potentially help the Raiders do just that would be linebacker Danielle Hunter, currently with the Minnesota Vikings. Things are odd in the Twin Cities these days, with the Vikes sending away established veterans as they look to get younger. Time, perhaps, for the Raiders to pounce.
That’s the view, at least, from Bleacher Report’s NFL trade big board, which has consistently had three-time Pro Bowler Hunter on the list of targets.
And the Raiders, with one of the league’s weaker linebacker corps and with Chandler Jones apparently on the outs with the organization, are a prime candidate to pursue him. The Browns were B/R’s focus for a Hunter deal, but the site also noted: “The Las Vegas Raiders might also want to give Hunter a look. While they are in a transition year, they are 1-0 and sitting alone atop the AFC West.”
Hunter Could Bolster Raiders Pass Rush
We’ll forgive them the characterization of this season as a “transition,” unless the folks at B/R are talking about a transition to the Super Bowl. Ahem.
But Hunter does make some sense for the Raiders, who were the third-weakest team in the league when it came to sacking the quarterback last year, with just 27 total sacks, and was 27th in quarterback hurry percentage, at 5.6%, according to Pro-Football-reference.com. They did log two sacks in the opener, but the hurry percentage was still just 5.4%.
Hunter had 14.5 sacks in 2019 and again in 2020, before being limited to just seven games played in 2021. He bounced back with 10.5 sacks last season.
This summer, Hunter reworked his contract with the Vikings and signed a one-year, $17 million extension in the process. His cap hit of $20.9 million makes him the most expensive player on the team, according to Spotrac.
Raiders Rookies Need Time
The Raiders’ pass rush does have some upside potential coming out of the Week 1 showing against Denver. Rookie Tyree Wilson, the team’s first-round draft pick, missed all of camp recovering from two foot surgeries, and looked especially rusty in his debut.
The Raiders had four rookies get significant time, and coach Josh McDaniels said an adjustment period was needed for all, especially after they look at the film.
“They’re going to see some good things that they did and they’re going to see some things that they didn’t do very well,” McDaniels said in his meeting with the media on Monday. “And so, a great opportunity to learn from what we saw. I think that’s really the case for all of our players, but our young players especially are going to see some things that they can do better.
“I think they probably felt a much different speed of the game as you go into the regular season from the preseason. It’s just a different speed and so everything happens a little quicker.”
Eventually, the assumption is, the Raiders will get back Jones, too, though McDaniels offered no real update on the situation, and there’s no indication that Jones is practicing with the team this week in West Virginia.