Free agency was – for the most part – kind to the Raiders in 2019.
Not only did the Silver and Black acquire top-end pieces like Trent Brown and Tyrell Williams in the early stages of the league year, General Manager Mike Mayock and Head Coach Jon Gruden also found success adding players like Richie Incognito, and Nevin Lawson – guys who became key parts of the team's respective rotations.
And now, even though the league year is still a few weeks down the road, Mayock and Gruden are looking ahead to free agency, and replicating the success they found a year ago, a process that included making sure their own players didn't get a chance to hit the open market come mid-March.
"First thing we did is we wanted to take [Darren] Waller off the board, and we wanted to take [Jalen] Richard off the board – don't let them get to free agency, so we locked them up, guys that we think have a huge upside," said Gruden Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We do want to use free agency as a vehicle to continue to get better. We did last year with Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner. We found Richie Incognito, Tyrell Williams, so we want to find some young guys, certainly, in free agency, but also want to find and address some needs."
Building through the draft and supplementing through free agency is a common approach to roster management throughout the NFL, and with solid young pieces like Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell already in place, the 2020 version of the Las Vegas Raiders are poised to do just that.
And with Derek Carr's primary backup, Mike Glennon, scheduled to hit free agency in just a few weeks, there could also be some additions to the team's quarterbacks' room as well.
"Mike Glennon's a free agent, and Nate Peterman was hurt, unavailable last season, so we're evaluating all the quarterbacks," Gruden said. "These free agents, certainly, and the kids in the draft. We met with five or six those yesterday as well."
Now, hitting on players – in both the draft and in free agency – is a challenge in and of itself, but Gruden and Mayock enter the 2020 offseason with a unique selling point in their pitch book.
The allure of Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and a brand-new practice facility in Henderson, Nev.
"In previous years, the agents don't get up and come across the hallway to see you," Gruden explained. "You have to go look for them, but players want to come play for the Raiders, I think because of the Silver and Black and their tradition, to start with, but the stadium, the excitement, Las Vegas, it really gives us, I think an outstanding vehicle to recruit players, and hopefully it all works out for us."
We'll have to wait until March 18 to officially see how active the Raiders are going to be in free agency, but if the team is able to replicate the success they found a year ago – and enjoy another bountiful harvest in the draft – 2020 would be off to an ideal start for the Silver and Black in their first year in Las Vegas.