The Las Vegas Raiders might be entering their most important free agency in a long time. Head coach Jon Gruden failed to get to the playoffs for the third season in a row and general manager Mike Mayock has put together two terrible free agency classes to start his career. Both men need to knock free agency out of the park this year.
The focus will likely be on fixing the defense but the Raiders could have a need at wide receiver if Nelson Agholor decides to leave. Luckily, it’s a strong class for free agent wide receivers. One name to keep an eye on is JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Pittsburgh Steelers standout is hitting free agency for the first time in his career and he’s already flirting with the idea of leaving.
“Should I just stay in Pittsburgh?” Smith-Schuster asked during a Twitch live stream. “Packers, Raiders, Jaguars … the Jets. … There’s a lot of good places to go.
Smith-Schuster hasn’t been an elite receiver in the last two seasons since he put up 1,426 receiving yards in 2018 and made a Pro Bowl. He did bounce back with a solid 2020 and accumulated 831 yards. If the Raiders are looking to bring in a wide receiver with superstar potential but might not cost too much, Smith-Schuster could pique their interest. Plus, it sounds like he’d be open to the idea.
“Oh, the Raiders? The Raiders are nice.” Smith-Schuster said later in the stream.
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Agholor or Smith-Schuster?
Interestingly enough, there are some connections between Smith-Schuster and Agholor. The two wide receivers were teammates at USC in 2014 and both were drafted by Pennsylvania teams. Smith-Schuster and Agholor also put up similar numbers in 2020. The latter put up 896 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while the former went for 831 yards and nine touchdowns.
Smith-Schuster has put together a more consistent career but he’ll likely cost more money. He’ll probably get a contract in the $10 to $15 million a year range. Agholor’s ceiling for a contract is probably $10 million a year. If the Raiders have a chance to sign either one, Agholor would be the smart play. He’s going to cost less money and he played really well with Derek Carr. Give him another offseason with the quarterback and the two could create something special. Smith-Schuster is a really good player but he causes headaches with his social media activity and the Raiders have had terrible luck bringing in Steelers wide receivers.
Allen Robinson Flirting With the Raiders?
If the Raiders are planning on dropping big money on a wide receiver this offseason, Allen Robinson has got to be the top target. He put up elite numbers in 2020 despite having inconsistent quarterback play in Chicago. He caught 102 passes for 1,250 yards with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles throwing him the ball. Give him a top 10 to 15 quarterback in Carr and his numbers could be even better.
Plus, Robinson has been seemingly flirting with the Raiders. He sent a message to new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley after he was hired, who was the wide receiver’s former coach in Jacksonville. He also liked a tweet from Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard asking who the Raiders should go after this offseason.
— Austin Boyd (@austincjboyd) January 13, 2021
Robinson’s social media activity doesn’t guarantee he’s heading to Las Vegas but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he appears to have a certain level of interest.