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Now that the NFL Combine is in the books and free agency begins on Monday, the Las Vegas Raiders are in the thick of the offseason. We’re also less than two months away from the NFL Draft, so let’s dive into this week’s mailbag!

Question: Regarding free agency, are the Raiders gonna be contenders or pretenders when it comes to signing meaningful players?

Answer: I was listening to Thursday’s episode of the Locked On Raiders podcast and Q touched on this subject, bringing up a good point that I think will be encouraging for Raider fans. Q talked about a handful of players from other teams who have mentioned joining the Raiders recently — mainly, former ASU guys who played for Antonio Pierce — and said that it was one of the first times in a while that other players seem to want to play for the Silver and Black.

Over the past 20 or so years, I can’t think of many guys who specifically wanted to become a Raider. The one exception would be Marshawn Lynch but that was more because the team was leaving his hometown.

Las Vegas has plenty of cap space to lure free agents over to the desert, and Tom Telesco was aggressive in free agency during his last few years as the Chargers general manager. Plus, Antonio Pierce seems pretty confident that this team is only a few pieces away from being a legitimate playoff contender and wants to be aggressive.

So, I think the Raiders will be active in free agency this offseason and go after a few big names. Of course, we’ll find out early next week how successful they are, but the funds are there and the mindset seems to point toward them being contenders.

Q: What would be a move that showed “we’re all in” similar to the Chandler Jones signing?

A: Signing Leonard Williams. He’s a good player who would contribute right away and fill one of the team’s biggest needs. However, Willaims also turns 30 in June, so that would definitely be a move geared more toward winning right away versus building for the future. At a different position, a similar statement could be said about Kendall Fuller, Chidobe Awuzie or Steven Nelson.

Q: Would you prioritize signing a DT and drafting a CB? Or vice versa?

A: Looking at this offseason specifically, sign a defensive tackle and draft a cornerback. With L’Jarius Sneed and Jaylon Johnson getting franchise-tagged, the free agent market at corner is a little underwhelming but there are several quality defensive tackles available. Leonard Williams, Christian Wilkins or DJ Reader would all be good fits and the team would still have room to draft another defensive tackle since the cupboard is bare that position. Also, this year’s draft class has a handful of quality corners that the Raiders could target.

Q: Which QB in the draft outside Jayden Daniels and Caleb Williams is the best fit?

A: I like Drake Maye more than Daniels so if Maye starts to fall on draft day, I think he’d be a good target. He has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and enough athleticism to be involved in the running game occasionally, which Luke Getsy’s offense asks quarterbacks to do. J.J. McCarthy would also be a good fit for the same reasons as Maye, just with a little less arm talent and a little more athleticism.

Q: Say we stay at 13, what is the best/worst case scenario?

A: Best case: Maye or McCarthy slide and are available at 13, allowing the Raiders to get a good quarterback prospect without having to give up assets/other picks. That being said, I think it’s significantly more likely that those two are off the board than either one of them being on it in the teens.

Worst case: None of the top four quarterbacks, Byron Murphy, Quinyon Mitchell or Terrion Arnold are available. Las Vegas would probably be able to pick up a good offensive lineman in that scenario, but missing on the top-end talent at the team’s biggest needs would sting a little bit. If that’s how the draft unfolds, I’d explore trading back and set my sights on Jer’Zhan Newton or Nate Wiggins.

Q: What are the chances we draft Joe Milton out of Tennessee and give him a chance to start?

A: Very low. While I thought Milton had a good performance at the combine where he could show off his impressive arm strength, he’s still an older prospect who is a project which is a bad combination. Tennessee’s offense didn’t do him any favors as a processor — it has a lot of predetermined throws — and he still struggles with touch and accuracy despite spending six years in college at two big programs. Milton has plenty of arm talent but I’d be surprised if he earns a starting job anywhere as a rookie, barring injuries.

Q: Would you rather have Cooper DeJean & Braden Fiske or Nate Wiggins & T’Vondre Sweat on this Raiders’ team?

A: If those are my only two options and I can’t mix and match, Wiggins and Sweat. DeJean is coming off an injury and might be a better safety than corner so the 13th overall pick would be rich for him. Also, I like Fiske more than Sweat, but I do have hesitations about Fiske’s short arms and technique that close the gap between those two.

Ultimately, the difference for me in the scenario is I think Wiggins is the better fit in Las Vegas than DeJean and the defense would at least be getting a good gap filler in the trenches with Sweat.

Q: Matt, when it’s all said and done, who do you think will be the starting QB in game one?

A: Can I go with the cop-out answer of whoever they draft? Lol.

I don’t see the Raiders making a run at Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield, nor do I think they trade for Justin Fields unless the price tag is really low. Russell Wilson is the only veteran I can see them bringing in as a potential starter since Wilson’s next contract will be cheap, but I also don’t think he’s that good anymore.

So, drafting a quarterback makes the most sense in my mind. If I’m staking a claim now (and I reserve the right to change this!), I’ll say McCarthy.

At the combine, McCarthy revealed that Getsy is connected to his quarterback coach at Michigan, Kirk Campbell, as Getsy and Campbell spent time together at West Virginia Wesleyan back in 2009. Also, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported this week that the Raiders are looking at trading into the five- to seven-pick range, where McCarthy likely will fall.

A: Las Vegas doesn’t have a ton of significant free agents, so I don’t think that many guys will get retained. Amik Robertson, Bilal Nichols and Jermaine Eluemunor are the first few that come to mind but I’m not going to pound the table for either of them to be brought back. In other words, the in-house free agents should have very little impact on their ability to go after someone like Wilkins.

A: If Wilson is willing to set aside his ego and sign for the veteran’s minimum since the Broncos are paying him $39 million for this season anyway, then it becomes a ‘Why not?’ type of situation for the Raiders. He either plays well and helps the team win, or gets beat out by Aidan O’Connell or a rookie and the organization can cut bait with having to eat a lot of money. It’s just a matter of if Wilson sees Las Vegas as the best destination for his situation.

As for Daniel Jones, two words: hell, no.

A: Thayer Munford Jr.’s situation is one of the most interesting storylines of free agency among the Raiders who aren’t free agents. He’s a seventh-round pick so I’m not too concerned about him not beating out Eluemunor over the last two years, but Munford Jr. also isn’t good enough to just be given a starting spot heading into next season. Ultimately, I think he’ll be given a chance to win a job in training camp, however, not without the front office bringing in competition via the draft, free agency or potentially both.

A: I’m assuming this is supposed to be Byron Murphy II and not Young. But yes, Murphy II is a good option if the Raiders miss out on a quarterback with the 13th pick. He became my top defensive tackle after a good showing at the combine and is a disruptive player who would pair well with Maxx Crosby and Malcolm Koonce on the edge.

I think Penix Jr. is more of a second-rounder, but I could be sold on the idea of trading into the end of the first round to keep the fifth-year option in the front office’s back pocket down the line. They’d probably have to trade up in the second round to get him anyway, so the question pivots to how much is having the leverage that comes with the option worth?

To run through a quick scenario, the Cardinals have the 27th (from the Texans) and 35th picks overall. According to the draft pick value chart, the difference between those two is 130 points or a late-third-round pick. Per Spotrac, the projected contract for pick 27 is about $13.6 million and 35th is about $9.8 million in total value.

So, is the fifth-year option worth a third- or fourth-rounder and a little less than a million bucks a year? I wouldn’t think twice if it were just the money, but the extra draft pick gives me some pause. I’d lean toward no since, ideally, Penix Jr. plays well enough that they start negotiating an extension at the end of year three anyway.

A: Similar question to the last one so we’ll go back to the handy draft pick value chart to give a ballpark range. Pick 44 is worth 460 points while 24 is worth 740 and 32 is 590. So, the Raiders would have to make up 280 to 130 points to get back into the first round. That’s equivalent to a late-second/early-third-round pick on the high end and a late-third-round pick on the lower end.

That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will continue to publish on Thursdays.

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