Overview:In 2016, the Oakland Raiders had one of the best one-two punches in the NFL as far as wide receivers were concerned. In their second season together, Amari Cooper and Derek Carr built on the rapport they established in 2015, and once again were Derek Carr's favorite two weapons on the outside for the Silver and Black. At season's end, "Coop" and "Crab" had both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, becoming the first Raiders duo to accomplish that feat since Tim Brown and Jerry Rice did it in 2001. In today's pass happy NFL, most teams are lucky if they have a single, true number one option, but in 2016, the Raiders were fortunate enough to have two. While Cooper and Crabtree understandably garnered a lot of the praise and attention last season, the wide receiving corps as a whole for the Raiders once again proved to be a strong group. Operating primarily from the slot, Seth Roberts again proved to have a knack for the big moment, finding the end zone five times in 2016, usually in an acrobatic, dynamic way. Veteran wide out Andre Holmes was the de facto number four receiver on the squad, and while he didn't have a ton of receptions to his name (14), he was the arguably the team's most valuable special teams player, and showed up in a big way in the team's playoff game against the Houston Texans. There's no doubt that Cooper and Crabtree were the most dynamic wide receivers on the roster, but in general, each of the receivers filled a unique role to better the group as a whole.
By The Numbers:In 2016, good things tended to happen when Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree got involved in the aerial attack. When the pair combined for at least 10 receptions in a game, the Raiders boasted a 12-4 record.
Going Forward:Derek Carr will once again have his top two targets back in 2017. After signing a long-term extension with the Silver and Black in December 2015, Michael Crabtree is under contract with the team for 2017 and beyond, and his running mate Amari Cooper is still playing out his rookie deal. Also, after another solid campaign, Seth Roberts is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning that the Raiders will have first crack at retaining him for next season. However, the same cannot be said for Andre Holmes, who after four seasons in Oakland, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the league year opens. The future of the veteran wide receiver is something I'll be paying close attention to for myriad reasons. As we said earlier, Holmes didn't have the flashiest numbers in 2016, but the work that he did on special teams really is immeasurable. Also, standing at 6'4", Holmes is far and away the tallest receiver on the roster, making him a big target for Carr to find, particularly in the red zone. Every good team needs players like Andre Holmes, so I'll be interested to see if he returns in 2017. Johnny Holton is also waiting in the wings after a rookie season that saw him play primarily on special teams, and with breakaway speed like he possesses, watch how new offensive coordinator Todd Downing puts him in positions to succeed. The top two spots on the Raiders receiving corps are set headed into 2017, but don't sleep on the bottom of the group, particularly if wide receiver coach Rob Moore's unit is infused with some new blood either in free agency or the draft.
An exclusive look back at the Wide Receivers from the 2016 season.
Standout Performer:While Amari Cooper was the one Raiders wide out selected to the Pro Bowl, I'm going to have to give the nod to Michael Crabtree on this one. That's no shot at the season that No. 89 put together, I think it just speaks more to what Crabtree was able to do in his second season as a Raider. In 2016, Crabtree eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since 2012 when he was playing on the other side of The Bay, and his eight receiving touchdowns were good for most on the team. From bigtime two-point conversions, to clutch third downs when the team needed to move the chains, Crabtree was there seemingly every time to answer the call. "King Crab" was a man on a mission in 2016, and with another year of familiarity with Derek Carr, 2017 should once again spell big things for No.15.