The Las Vegas Raiders only have two wide receivers under contract next season who aren’t on Reserve/Future deals. Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow can be one of the better duos in the NFL if they get the right quarterback and stay healthy but the team needs to fill out the roster. Mack Hollins played well in 2022 but could be in line for a big contract after a breakout season.
If the Raiders can’t bring back Hollins, they need to find another good option as a No. 2 or No. 3 wide receiver. That could lead them to try to poach a player from a rival. JuJu Smith-Schuster took a discount to play for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. That turned out to be a smart move as he had 78 catches for 933 yards and is set to play in the Super Bowl. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal believes that the former Pro Bowler makes a lot of sense for the Raiders this offseason.
“Smith-Schuster, 26, wouldn’t satisfy the Raiders’ need for speed, but he would be a great fit as a second option to complement Adams. He had 78 catches for 933 yards and three touchdowns this season,” Bonsignore wrote. “He played on a one-year, $3.7 million contract, so he will be looking for a pay raise. That will come into play for the Raiders.”
How Much Money Could Smith-Schuster Command?
Smith-Schuster may be a victim of getting off to too fast of a start to his career. In just his second season, he caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. He looked like one of the next great wide receivers. However, he’s never been able to replicate that production and hasn’t broken 1,000 receiving yards in any of the past four seasons.
He’s not a superstar but he’s still a good wide receiver. He’d likely have success in a Raiders offense where Davante Adams is getting most of the attention from defenses. Smith-Schuster wouldn’t necessarily be cheap. Spotrac puts his market value at $14.6 million a year. That wouldn’t put him in the top 20 highest-paid wide receivers so that would be a fair price. That said, with so many other needs on the roster, paying over $10 million a year to a third wide receiver might not be the best idea for the Raiders.
Potential WR Steals in Free Agency
If the Raiders don’t want to splurge on a wide receiver in free agency, there are some cheaper options. Nelson Agholor had success in his one season with the team in 2020. He spent a year under Josh McDaniels with the New England Patriots so he knows the offense. He didn’t live up to his contract in New England so he would be a cheap free agent option.
The Raiders didn’t have much speed at wide receiver this year and may be interested in adding some. Mecole Hardman is another Chiefs wide receiver who is headed for free agency. He’s one of the fastest players in the NFL, which could help take some attention off of Las Vegas’ top guys. He’s also a Pro Bowler as a kick returner. The Raiders haven’t had a kick returner in a few years that is as dangerous as Hardman.