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Las Vegas Raiders Free Agents 2022: Marcus Mariota, Casey Hayward, and Zay Jones top the list

The Las Vegas Raiders made the playoffs despite numerous off-field distractions -- which of their players will be free agents in 2022?

The Las Vegas Raiders really only have a few key free agents entering the 2022 NFL offseason. While they are focused on their postseason run, let’s look at the Raiders’ 2022 free agents and whether or not they should (or can) retain them.

Heading into the offseason, be sure to check out who are the top free agents at each position in the NFL.

Las Vegas Raiders 2022 Free Agents

Whatever hopes Raiders fans had of their franchise making it to the playoffs seemed to be dashed when head coach Jon Gruden resigned and the Henry Ruggs tragedy occurred. Yet, here we are. But as football analysts, we must always keep our eyes on the future.

According to Spotrac, the Raiders are projected to have roughly $39 million in salary-cap space this offseason. So, which in-house free agents should they bring back for the 2022 season?

Top Raiders offensive free agents

Most of the Raiders’ free agents are on the defensive side of the ball, but there are some offensive contributors set to hit the market.

Marcus Mariota | QB

In March of 2020, Marcus Mariota signed a two-year deal worth $17.6 million with the Raiders. However, last March, the two sides agreed to restructure, dropping his 2021 cap hit to $3.5 million. As a backup QB, Mariota has played sparingly behind starter Derek Carr. He has completed 18 of 30 passes for 230 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in his two years with Las Vegas.

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The Raiders have instead deployed Mariota as a change-of-pace QB on a few designed runs and in the red zone. As a result, he has taken 18 carries for 175 yards and 2 TDs. Entering 2022, a QB-needy team may be willing to offer the former No. 2 overall pick and 28-year-old an opportunity to compete for a starting role.

Zay Jones and DeSean Jackson | WR

With Ruggs leaving an already thin receiving corps midseason, the Raiders signed DeSean Jackson. He has been little more than an occasional deep threat, hauling in 12 receptions for 233 yards and 1 TD in nine games with the team. Meanwhile, Zay Jones has quietly become one of Carr’s favorite targets, receiving 6+ targets in each of his last seven contests.

Las Vegas should have little interest in bringing back Jackson (35 years old) for another season, but they should invest in Jones. His rapport with Carr has matured, and he is finally flashing the potential that the Bills spent a second-round pick on in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Jalen Richard and Peyton Barber | RB

With Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake under contract, Jalen Richard and Peyton Barber are expendable pieces of the offense. Neither has done much to impress in 2021, though Barber has proven to be a solid pass blocker.

The only free agent in the backfield Las Vegas needs to retain is FB Alec Ingold. He tore his ACL in Week 10, but Ingold is a weapon from a largely extinct position. Due to his injury, the Raiders could presumably sign him to a cheap deal, though he deserves more for what he has done for the offense.

Top Raiders defensive free agents

The Raiders have struggled on defense, and losing these defensive players would not help their aspirations for the 2022 season.

Casey Hayward Jr. and Desmond Trufant | CB

Like their receiving unit, the Raiders have a lean cornerback room, especially with the release of former first-rounder Damon Arnette. Thus, keeping one or both of Casey Hayward Jr. and Desmond Trufant is a priority. Trufant was thrust into a heavy role in Week 16 and has played well.

But his success pails in comparison to Hayward’s. After starring for the Packers and Chargers, Hayward took his talents to the Black Hole in 2021. He allowed a completion rate of just 54.5% in the regular season and thrived in Las Vegas’ zone-heavy scheme. If the Raiders have any hope of returning to the playoffs in 2022, they have to re-sign their CB1, even at the ripe age of 32.

Entire defensive tackle group

Quinton Jefferson, Johnathan Hankins, Solomon Thomas, Gerald McCoy, and Darius Philon are all on expiring contracts. McCoy suffered an injury in the first game of the season and didn’t return. Philon played less than 300 snaps and is now on the injured reserve. Hankins struggled mightily in 2021 and offered virtually no pass-rush help.

The best of the group has been Jefferson and Thomas, both racking up 4.5 and 3.5 sacks, respectively. The Raiders will need to bring at least one or two of these players back next year, with Jefferson, Thomas, and Philon being the favorites to return.

K.J. Wright and Nicholas Morrow | LB

Las Vegas has needed linebackers since Rolando McClain — yes, that long. Nicholas Morrow has progressed since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2017. Nevertheless, he will make his first appearance in 2021 in the Wild Card match with the Bengals — he has been out since early September with an ankle injury. If he puts on a strong showing in the playoffs and the Raiders believe in his upward trajectory, they will bring him back next year.

K.J. Wright is best utilized in a versatile role, even in his advanced age. Yet, the Raiders haven’t allowed him to rush the passer or drop in coverage often, limiting him to early downs where teams tend to run the ball — though he has been solid as a run defender. With Cory Littleton (who could be a cap casualty), Denzel Perryman (a 2021 Pro Bowler), and Divine Deablo returning in 2022, there is little need for the Raiders to re-sign Wright.

The Raiders’ other free agents in 2022

  • Richie Incognito, G
  • Nick Martin, C
  • Derek Carrier, TE
  • Brandon Parker, OT
  • Jermaine Eluemunor, G
  • Dallin Leavitt, S, (RFA)
  • Jordan Simmons, G (RFA)
  • Keisean Nixon, CB (RFA)
  • Roderic Teamer, S (ERFA)
  • Nick Bowers, TE (ERFA)

James Fragoza is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter @JamesFragoza.

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