As Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler recently pointed out, free agency is a tool to fill needs. No surprise, then, the Raiders got busy at wide receiver across the first phase of free agency.
The Henry Ruggs situation last year left a gaping hole at that position. With veterans Zay Jones and DeSean Jackson being phased out, it only added to the urgency to address that group.
In the blink of an eye, though, the Raiders turned an area of great concern into one of strength.
They did it not only by boldly trading for Davante Adams, generally considered one of the top three wide receivers in the game. In conjunction with that move, they also added veterans Demarcus Robinson and Mack Hollins, both of whom bring experience and versatility.
The Raiders aren’t necessarily done tinkering at that spot. But as it stands now, they have a strong foundation consisting of Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Robinson, Hollins, Tyron Johnson, Dillon Stoner and D.J. Turner.
On paper, Adams, Renfrow and Edwards are the likely starters in a three-wide receiver set, although Edwards clearly has to take a big step forward to solidify his role.
Adams and Renfrow are two of the most skilled route runners in the NFL. Playing alongside dynamic tight end Darren Waller, they give the Raiders three of the most formidable weapons in the league.
From a defensive standpoint, trying to stop all three will be close to impossible.When teams opt to take either Waller or Adams out of games through double teams, it will open the field to everyone else.
That was part of the Raiders’ thinking in sending their 2022 first- and second-round picks to Green Bay to acquire Adams.
“I feel really comfortable about the decision that we made,” Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels said of the decision to acquire Adams. “He’s the kind of player we would consider doing this for.”
In two seasons Edwards has produced 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns. But as he heads into his third year, any stagnant or backward step could open the door for more time for the new additions.
In both the 6-foot-1 Robinson and the 6-4 Hollins, the Raiders targeted size, positional versatility and special teams flexibility.
“First of all, both of them are big,” Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels said. “They have very good size and are very competitive. They were productive in their own roles.”
Robinson was mostly a situational player in Kansas City, although he did start 29 games over the last three years. In that time he’s caught 102 passes for 1,179 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Demarcus has been productive in a good offense,” McDaniels said. “He is a guy that has played off of others.”
Hollins has played four years in the NFL, the last three with the Dolphins. He missed all of 2018 with a groin injury.
His career numbers aren’t eye-popping — 56 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns — but he is a big-bodied situational receiver who has also played 764 special teams snaps.
“Mack certainly factored significantly in the kicking game. I mean, significantly,” said McDaniels. “This guy is a really good kicking game player that also can play on offense. If you can get guys like that, I don’t care what position they play. If they’re good enough in the kicking game to be a factor, they’ll be at the game every week.”
The combined 16 touchdowns between Robinson and Hollins show an ability to be productive near the goal line. The Raiders struggled to consistently score touchdowns inside the opponents’ 20-yard line — their 49.23 touchdown percentage in that area of the field ranked 29th in the 32-team NFL — so expect both to get snaps in those situations.
“They have both been factors at times in the red zone,” McDaniels said. “We’re going to try and improve that area of our team, we know that. On both sides of the ball.”