Heading into free agency, the Las Vegas Raiders needed to work on upgrading the offensive line. So far, it’s been slow going and most of the big names are no longer on the market. The lack of activity hasn’t been due to a lack of trying.
Recently, former Raiders fourth-round pick Jon Feliciano was released by the Buffalo Bills. The veteran offensive lineman appeared to be recruited by quarterback Derek Carr and Las Vegas would’ve been a logical landing spot. However, Feliciano decided to reunite with former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and signed a deal with the New York Giants. According to Bills beat writer Matt Parrino, the Raiders “were in the mix” to sign him.
Feliciano will play center with the Giants after being a guard for most of his career. The Raiders have a center under contract in Andre James and likely would’ve wanted Feliciano to play guard. He must’ve seen more upside with making a move to center. Regardless, the Raiders will have to go back to the drawing board.
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Patience Is a Virtue
Every year, there are a small handful of teams that spend massive amounts of money at the start of free agency. Those teams don’t always get the returns they were hoping for. The Raiders have been big spenders before and likely wish they didn’t give big money to Trent Brown, Tyrell Williams and LaMarcus Joyner in 2019. Dave Ziegler was a proponent of the New England Patriots spending big in free agency last year. While the team did improve, they likely wish they weren’t paying so much money to Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith right now.
A lot of times, there’s a reason players are in free agency. Truly elite players don’t typically ever make it to the open market. That isn’t to say that there aren’t difference makers available but patience is important this time of year. The Raiders do need to make some moves to stay relevant in the AFC West but it’s still early in the offseason.
Do Raiders Still Have Hope for Alex Leatherwood?
Perhaps the new Raiders brass is higher on Alex Leatherwood than people realize. The 2021 first-round pick had a wildly disappointing rookie season. He started the season at right tackle and his play was so poor that he had to be moved to right guard. During the NFL Scouting Combine, Ziegler didn’t sound overly confident in what the plan for Leatherwood is going forward.
“I don’t think you have to have it established for free agency or the draft,” Ziegler said. “We’re always going to be focused on just drafting good players, regardless of the position. I think that one good thing about Alex that not all rookies are afforded the opportunity to do is play a lot of games. And when you get a lot of play time as a rookie, just like any of us in our first year on a job, you learn things that you’re good at, you learn things that you need to improve at, you kind of get exposed to things that you never even thought about. And so I think it’s exciting to have a guy like Alex that’s played a lot of football, and, ultimately, we’ll see where he fits.
“We’re not going to pigeonhole him into saying he’s this or he’s that. We’re going to let him create an opportunity for himself, and we’ll be excited to be able to work with him.”
Though Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels have no attachment to Leatherwood, they could still be interested in trying to make things work considering how high he was drafted.