The Las Vegas Raiders are heading into free agency with a litany of needs all over the defense. While the team could upgrade their secondary and linebacker corps, the biggest need is on the defensive line. The Raiders have to find a defensive tackle who can create some pressure from the interior.
Luckily, one of the best in the business will be available. New York Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams is hitting free agency and he’s coming off a career year. The former first-round pick notched 11.5 sacks in 2020 and 14 tackles for loss, which were both career highs. He’s a really strong run defender and improved significantly as a pass rusher this season. He’s going to be highly sought after in free agency and the Raiders should be among the team’s interested in the lineman and it looks like that’s the case.
Sports Illustrated’s Hondo Carpenter suggested on Las Vegas AM radio’s Silver and Black Today that the Raiders intend to pursue Williams in free agency, via Raiders Beat.
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Williams Grew up a Raiders Fan
Williams to the Raiders makes sense for a lot of reasons. Obviously, he’d help fix the team’s biggest need. Having an interior defensive lineman create more pressure would help Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby quite a bit. Also, Williams grew up a Raiders fan and was hoping to get drafted by the team back in 2015.
That was obviously over five years ago so things change. It’s hard to know if he still has any feelings towards the silver and black. If he does, that would definitely give the team an upper hand in free agency and Williams would look good in silver and black. Regardless, the Raiders would need to give him a hefty payday if they hope to land the talented pass rusher.
Can the Raiders Sign Williams?
Things will get tricky for the Raiders if they want to sign Williams. The team is currently projected to be almost $20 million over the salary cap, according to Spotrac. Williams is very likely to get a contract in the $20 million a year range. If the Raiders are willing to pay that, they’re going to need to do some work.
Letting go of Tyrell Williams, Trent Brown, Marcus Mariota and LaMarcus Joyner would free up a big chunk of change. None of those four men were key players for the Raiders last season so they would be fine without them. However, the team could be apprehensive to give Williams big money. They’ve missed badly on a lot of free-agent signings over the last two years. Each of the four players mentioned as potential cuts were signed in the last two offseasons.
Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock could get cold feet in free agency this offseason due to how the last two years have gone. Even if the Raiders go after Williams, they probably won’t be big spenders. Their likely focus will be on building through the draft. However, Williams could be a game-changer for Las Vegas and would allow them to use their early draft picks to address other positions of need.