The Las Vegas Raiders turned heads with some massive offseason spending. Let’s talk about what needs to happen next for their championship dreams to be realized.
Don’t call it Super Bowl-or-bust for the Las Vegas Raiders just yet, but their championship window is officially open.
After acquiring five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams (and paying him handsomely) and down on their own homegrown talent, all eyes are on the City of Sin. Critically, the off-field honeymoon phase is nearing its end in Vegas now that they’re in Year 3 in their current home; that means the full focus is rightly on-field product, and they notably upped the ante since the end of the 2021 campaign with a serious of ambitious moves.
They hired head coach Josh McDaniels and committed $566.6 million in salary to their roster offseason, a figure that ranks No. 2 in the NFL after only reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Perhaps the high spending will lead to a similar destiny, but they most certainly have their work cut out for them in a highly competitive AFC West division.
To be clear, money doesn’t always translate to success. Let’s take a look at how the hefty spending plays into their lofty expectations this season and beyond, as well as the risk factors they’ll need to take into account in order to make their potential championship window as long and productive as possible.
Despite spending all that offseason money, the Raiders currently have the second-most cap space in the NFL as of this writing ($14.2 million). Here are the biggest names they acquired or extended in calendar year 2022:
- WR Davante Adams: 5 years, $140 million ($28M Avg. Annual Value)
- The two-time All Pro wideout reportedly passed on a bigger contract from Green Bay so he could sign with the Silver and Black. He’s highest-paid wideout in league history by total contract value, and No. 2 after Tyreek Hill in average annual value and guaranteed money. He hit the ground running in his Raiders debut, catching 10 of his 17 targets for 141 yards and one TD in Week 1.
- QB Derek Carr: 3 years, $121.5 million ($40.5M AAV)
- The Raiders drafted Carr in 2014 and re-upped with him in June. It certainly helped that Carr and Adams played together at Fresno State, but he’s arguably their biggest question mark — in eight years as starting QB, he’s made the playoffs only once and doesn’t own a postseason win.
- TE Darren Waller: 3 years, $51 million ($17 million AAV)
- The Raiders made Waller the highest-paid tight end in the NFL by annual salary one day before the first game of the 2022 season with the $51 million extension. The one-time Pro Bowl TE will make roughly $66.3 million through 2027.
- WR Hunter Renfrow: 2 years, $32 million ($15.9 million AAV)
- The fifth-year slot receiver signed the two-year extension after a monster season as Carr’s favorite target. Renfrow’s 103 receptions last season topped any other Raiders pass-catcher by nearly 50. He has the second-highest reception total in a single season in franchise history, falling one short of Hall of Famer Tim Brown’s 1997 campaign.
- DE Maxx Crosby: 4 years, $95 million ($23.5 million AAV)
- After Crosby inked the big contract, he became the sixth-highest-paid NFL edge rusher by total contract value following his first All-Pro season, one that saw him finish No. 1 in the league in QB knockdowns with 19.
All told, Adams is the big piece that can take this team to the next level, but it’s worth remembering that Carr, Renfrow, and Crosby were all drafted by the Raiders. Suddenly, McDaniels’ group features an impressive mix of homegrown continuity and trade market star power.
When you have arguably the best assortment of pass-catchers in the league, you’re inevitably going to air it out more than not. With that in mind, let’s unpack the risks and rewards this team is staring down on offense.
The passing game: During their Week 1 loss against the Chargers, the Raiders ran pass plays 76.79% of the time, the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the Jets. Last season, they posted the fifth-most completions in the NFL (429) to go along with a 68.3% completion percentage (No. 4 in the league).
The backfield: Though they were limited, the running backs held their own in Week 1, averaging 4.9 yards per carry with Josh Jacobs leading the way (57 yards on 10 carries). Perhaps now that teams are more heavily scheming against the pass, there’s an opportunity to lean harder on Jacobs to keep defenses off-balance — but only if the big uglies can do the job up front.
The offensive line: Yes, this is where things can get a little funky with this offense. According to ProFootballFocus, Vegas played seven different players along the O-line and used three different combinations, enabling LA’s dangerous pass-rushers to bother Carr and nab five sacks. The offensive line was a concern last year, and the tough go early isn’t reassuring.
It’s a quarterback league, and this team only goes as far as Carr takes them (pun unintended). However, his success — along with the receiving corps and backfield — depends directly on Vegas’ offensive line play.
There’s a reason we aren’t deeming this a Super Bowl or bust season for the Raiders here and now. As long as they have players like Adams and Waller, they’ll always be a threat, but there are several question marks out there for a team that just dropped more than a half-billion dollars this off-season.
Fortunately, time is on their side this season given how many key signings they have locked in through 2025.
Super Bowl window, consider yourself open. And now, the real work begins.
NFL Week 2 Odds: Cardinals at Raiders (-5.5), 4:25 p.m. ET
All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
- O/U win total: 8.5 +110
- Win AFC West: +1000
- Win AFC: +3000
- Win Super Bowl: +4400