The 2016/2017 season was brilliant for the Raiders in multiple ways, and it’s key that supporters and fans alike don’t forget that. The emergence of three world class players means this Raiders roster finally has talent in crucial places for years to come. The problem with that? Contract negotiations.
On offense, Derek Carr firmly stepped into the spotlight as one of the best quarterbacks in the league in only his second professional season. Before a late season leg break spelt heartbreak for the Raiders, Carr was on pace to be in the MVP conversation along with eventual winner Matt Ryan and superbowl champion Tom Brady. He improved his quarterback rating by five points and halved the number of interceptions from his rookie year. This all amounts to one thing- he should get paid like one of the premier quarterbacks in this league. The Raiders have waited so long for a quarterback of this calibre and they simply cannot let him walk away to another team, so re-signing Carr will be step number one this offseason or next.
Still on offense, you can’t forget about Amari Cooper. The AC-DC connection has been potent since day one, and you can see how good their chemistry is on the field. As with Carr, the Raiders have waited so long for a top tier wide receiver that they will almost certainly re-sign both of these two at the same time. Cooper may not be paid in the same tier as Julio Jones, AJ Green or Antonio Brown, but for sure he will be up around that top-tier. These two together will take up a large portion of cap space that may see some other cap causalities in people like Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree or Mychal Rivera.
The Raiders defense starts and ends with Khalil Mack. There is nothing the newly crowned NFL Defensive player of the year cant do on that side of the ball as a one man wrecking ball. To what level Mack gets paid will be interesting though. Mack has a doppelganger in Von Miller, who in turn just got the biggest non-QB contract ever. Now its important to note that Miller has accomplished much more than Mack at this stage of his career, but that’s not to say Mack wont eventually get there. There are very few players that can do what these two do, and there is no doubt that Millers contract will come up when the negotiations begin.
The situation with Mack differs slightly over Carr and Cooper as he enters the final guaranteed year of his rookie deal, so if he is to stay long term they would want to get a contract worked out this offseason. There is an option in the contract for an extra year, which would be a no-brainer should the two parties not be able to work something out this offseason.
The Raiders come into this offseason projected to have the 11th highest cap room in the league. Normally that would mean a big free agency, but in this case it’s more crucial to solidify the team for years to come and take some talent to Vegas.