<
>

Las Vegas Raiders' NFL free-agent signings 2022: Davante Adams agrees to long-term deal after trade

play
What adding Davante Adams means for Derek Carr and the Raiders (0:51)

Paul Gutierrez breaks down how trading for Davante Adams is beneficial to Derek Carr and the Raiders. (0:51)

NFL free agency has been going for over a week, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2022 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began March 16 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official now. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 on ESPN.

At the beginning of free agency, the Raiders came in with specific needs at cornerback, receiver, offensive line and backup quarterback. And with a new regime of general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, the Silver and Black suddenly have a certain Patriot Way about them. The Raiders made a big splash at wide receiver, one of the biggest moves in the league this offseason.

The Raiders had some free agents of their own to ponder, too, guys such as quarterback Marcus Mariota, cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. and receiver DeSean Jackson.

Here's a breakdown of every 2022 NFL free-agent signing by the Las Vegas Raiders, and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Davante Adams, wide receiver

The Raiders and Adams agreed to terms on a five-year contract, worth $28.5 million a season, after being acquired in a trade for Las Vegas' first- and second-round picks in this year's draft, sources told ESPN.

What it means: The Raiders are all-in on trying to win a loaded AFC West and beyond. Adams cost Las Vegas its first- and second-round picks this year and is signing a five-year deal with the Raiders averaging $28.5 million a season, and he would not have come to Sin City sans assurances his college QB would not also be there for the foreseeable future. So an extension for Derek Carr -- who is entering the final season of the five-year, $125 million extension he signed last season -- is also in the offing. Carr has not only a reunion with his Fresno State wideout, but also the first true, still-in-his prime WR1 of his NFL career. The first alpha, in-his-prime kind of receiver for the Raiders since ... Tim Brown.

What's the risk: Hopefully these old Fresno State Bulldogs don't face the 2013 USC squad at nearby Sam Boyd Stadium, where the Trojans blew out Carr, Adams and Co., 45-20, in that year's Las Vegas Bowl. I kid. Kinda. But unless the Raiders fix their offensive line and give Carr time to find Adams in new coach Josh McDaniels' offense, none of it will matter. Kind of like last season, which had more than its share of off-the-field travails and the Raiders still won 10 games and went to the playoffs. And if the defense can't stop anyone, especially in the division, the point will also be moot.


Chandler Jones, edge rusher

The Raiders and Jones have agreed to terms on a reported three-year deal worth more than $51 million.

What it means: The Raiders pair a proven pass-rusher in the two-time first-team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler in Jones with an up-and-coming edge rusher and foundation piece in Maxx Crosby, who just signed a $95 million extension. They also traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in a separate deal. With a QB-rich AFC West -- Russell Wilson is now in Denver (Jones has sacked Wilson 16.5 times in his career) along with Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Justin Herbert with the Los Angeles Chargers -- pass-rushers are at a premium in the division. And the Raiders adding a guy with 107.5 career sacks in 10 seasons can only help.

What's the risk: Jones is 32 and has already played in 139 games in his career. Five of his 10.5 sacks last year came in the season opener and he only had 2.5 combined sacks in the Cardinals' last six games. How much does he have left in the tank? Of course, there is a New England connection with the Raiders' new regime and Jones having spent the first four seasons of his career with the Patriots, so there is familiarity. He skipped OTAs and minicamp last offseason after not getting a contract extension, so we will see how happy he is with a new team and new deal.


Anthony Averett, cornerback

The Raiders and Averett have agreed to terms on a 1-year, $4.5 million contract, per profootballnetwork.com.

What it means: Depth, competition and experience for the Raiders at a prime position of need. Averett is coming off a season in which he started a career-best 14 games for the Ravens and picked off the first three passes of his career while playing 90% of the Ravens' defensive snaps. He should compete with Rock Ya-Sin for a starting gig opposite Trayvon Mullen Jr., who might also have to fight for his job after playing in just five games last season. Add backup Darius Phillips and slot corner Nate Hobbs and Las Vegas has revamped its cornerback corps, seemingly for the better.

What's the risk: Averett, 27, reverts to playing like a backup -- he had started just seven of his previous 30 games -- as does Ya-Sin while Mullen can't get right and the Raiders' cornerback makeover is an exercise in futility. Yeah, that Damon Arnette pick would still haunt the Raiders. Not saying that's going to happen at all, but you asked about risk, right? Averett seems to be ascending, and with the money Las Vegas is paying him and giving up pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue for Ya-Sin, the Raiders believe they have improved at cornerback. Stay tuned.


Bilal Nichols, defensive tackle

The Raiders and Nichols agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $11 million, with $9 million guaranteed, a source confirmed to ESPN.

What it means: With so many of their own defensive tackles also free agents, the Raiders got a plug-and-play interior defensive lineman who has experience not only in a 3-4 scheme but as a nose tackle in said alignment. Yes, new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has said the 3-4 vs. 4-3 conversation is outdated, but he has primarily leaned on 3-4 tendencies and the 6-foot-3, 302-pound Nichols can occupy gaps. Nichols, a fifth-round draft pick of the Bears out of Delaware in 2018, has started 49 of 60 career games, including 15 of 17 last season, and has 11 sacks and 31 QB hits. He should be a Day 1 starter for the Raiders' new regime.

What's the risk: Standing pat. As noted earlier, the Raiders have five -- FIVE! -- defensive tackles who are UFAs in starters Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson, backups Solomon Thomas and Darius Philon and even Gerald McCoy, who was lost for the year in the season opener to a knee injury. So, yeah, Las Vegas needs bodies at the position, and bad. For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus had Nichols as one of its most overrated free-agent interior defensive linemen. Still, Nichols' contract is not outrageous and gives the Raiders flexibility to make more moves here. They need to.


Brandon Bolden, running back

The Raiders and Bolden have agreed to terms on a yet-to-be-disclosed contract.

What it means: The Raiders have chosen to move on from pass-catching back Jalen Richard in favor of Bolden, who is obviously more familiar with Josh McDaniels' system. In fact, Bolden, who has played eight of his nine seasons in New England, caught a career-high 41 passes for a career-best 405 yards with two touchdowns last season. He also carried the ball 44 times for 226 yards, his most since 2013, and a TD.

What's the risk: How many carries are available for a team that has a guy who has already authored a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Josh Jacobs and the versatile Kenyan Drake, who is returning from a season-ending ankle injury? Bolden seems to be more of a third-down specialist, though, and so long as harmony is kept and Bolden is more of a mentor and change-of-pace guy in McDaniels' system, his addition should be a boon.


Mack Hollins, wide receiver

The Raiders and Hollins have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, though financials have not yet been revealed.

What it means: With Zay Jones off to Jacksonville, the Raiders find a potential No. 3 receiver and remain on the hunt for a true No. 1. The only established wideouts on the roster are (checks notes) Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards and ... that's it. Hollins may not excite many fans -- he started 5 of 38 games in two years with the Dolphins -- but he is a worker who averaged 15.9 yards per catch on his 14 receptions last season and scored four touchdowns. Solid, but not spectacular.

What's the risk: None, really, so long as not a lot is expected of him. And that's no dig. Hollins is the guy who caught the 34-yard prayer from Ryan Fitzpatrick, with Arden Key tugging at his facemask, late to set the Dolphins up for an improbable win at Las Vegas in 2020. Grit your teeth, Raider Nation.


Ameer Abdullah, running back

The Raiders have signed Abdullah to an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: A very crowded running back room for the offseason program and training camp. Abdullah joins Josh Jacob, Kenyan Drake, Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson, which further pushes out free agent Jalen Richard. The 5-foot-9, 196-pound Abdullah is more of a pass-catching back, like Bolden, in that in the past four seasons with Detroit, Minnesota and Carolina he has more receiving yards (463) and receiving TDs (4) than he does rushing yards (324) and rushing TDs (0). Keep in mind, the versatile Drake is returning from a season-ending ankle injury, so bodies and depth are needed at the position for the offseason.

What's the risk: Define 'risk.' Abdullah is a complementary piece, as noted above to provide depth and competition. He's not coming in on a huge contract, or to be an every down back. His specialty of late is to catch passes out of the backfield and if Drake is slowed this offseason, what's the risk? Maybe having such a crowded RB room would cut into the learning curve of returners Jacobs and Drake -- Bolden and Johnson are obviously quite familiar with new coach Josh McDaniels’ offense -- but that's a risk the Raiders are more than willing to take at this stage.


Darius Phillips, cornerback

The Raiders and Phillips agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $2.25 million, a source told ESPN.

What it means: Not exactly the splashiest of signings, but a needed one for depth and, well, special teams. Sure, the Raiders had been linked to front-line corners such as J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore so to first reach an agreement with Phillips, who last started a game in 2020 and went on IR with a shoulder injury after 12 games last season, seems like a meh moment for the Raiders' new regime. But Phillips was more of a returner in 2021, averaging 21.1 yards on eight kickoff returns and 7.1 yards on 25 punt returns. And he should take over punt return duties from receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught 103 passes for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

What's the risk: Phillips' shoulder is not healed and he is unable to lift the punt return burden from Pro Bowl slot man Renfrow, who needs to stay healthy himself. Plus, if Phillips is starting at corner opposite Trayvon Mullen Jr., that means the Raiders swung and missed at getting an established cornerback in free agency. Still, Phillips did pick off a career-best four passes in eight games, with one start, in 2019 for the Bengals, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Western Michigan in 2018. So he has a nose for the ball.


Alex Bars, guard

The Raiders and Bars agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: Bars brings experience and depth to the offensive line as he has started at center, left guard, right guard and as an extra tackle. His versatility could bode well for last year's first round pick, Alex Leatherwood, continuing his development, be it at right guard or right tackle. Bars, who started three games last year as the "jumbo" tackle, would also presumably give left guard John Simpson some competition for the starting gig. Versatility is key in a Josh McDaniels offense, and Bars brings that, if nothing else.

What's the risk: Yeah, versatility is nice and all that, but having started games all over the line leads to the question -- where does Bars fit best and excel? Leatherwood struggled mightily as a rookie, so there's no sure bet he goes back to right tackle, but what about the return of Denzelle Good, who was the right tackle before a knee injury ended his season in Week 1? Bars played right tackle in college but he seems to be a better projected fit at left guard ... in March.


Jakob Johnson, fullback

The Raiders and Johnson have agreed to terms on a 1-year contract, his agent tells ESPN.

What it means: Familiarity breeds ... content? Welcome in, then, the first former Patriots offensive player to jump ship from New England to Las Vegas. And who said coach Josh McDaniels never used a fullback as New England's playcaller? True, he has yet to record an NFL carry after three years in the league, but Johnson has caught 13 passes for 83 yards and a TD in his career. The days of the fullback-inspired 'Spider 2 Y Banana' are a relic of Raiders past, but McDaniels should be able to utilize Johnson in his, ahem, content of plays, right?

What's the risk: McDaniels let fan favorite and team captain Alec Ingold, who tore an ACL last season, walk in free agency and he signed with Miami, so unless Johnson is better than Ingold, there remains a risk of side-eyes galore. As mentioned above, Johnson's next rushing attempt will be his first, so keep that in mind if and when that happens and the ball security that could come from it. At least Johnson is known for his pass blocking.


Garrett Gilbert, quarterback

The Raiders and Gilbert agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, per his agency Steinberg Sports.

What it means: The Raiders have a backup quarterback. And while he may be a familiar face, it’s not Marcus Mariota. At least, not today. Because before Gilbert, the only QB Las Vegas had under contract was starter Derek Carr, who has only one year remaining on his contract but is in line for an extension. Gilbert has had two practice squad stints with both the Raiders and Patriots, so there is familiarity with both Las Vegas' organization as well as its new coach in Josh McDaniels. Gilbert has only appeared in eight games in his NFL career, starting two, and is 0-2 so he is no threat to unseat Carr. In fact, Gilbert and Carr were part of the same draft class in 2014, Carr going to the Raiders in the second round that year and Gilbert selected by the Rams in the sixth round out of SMU.

What's the risk: Um, none. It’s not like the Raiders brought him to compete with Carr. Though Gilbert, who started a game for the Cowboys in 2020 and a game for Washington last year, does have a touch more experience in McDaniels' system, given his two tours of duty in new England, in 2014 and last season. Gilbert, 30, did light it up in the defunct AAF, leading the league in passing yards and passer rating in 2019 and he is the son of former Bills and Chargers backup QB Gale Gilbert, the only player in NFL history to play on give consecutive Super Bowl losing teams.


Micah Kiser, linebacker

The Raiders and Kiser agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders need bodies at linebacker -- entering Monday they only had two in Denzel Perryman and Divine Deablo -- and Kiser, who has experience in a 3-4 scheme, fills that bill. Even if new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham insists talk of 4-3 vs. 3-4 alignments are "outdated" in today;s NFL, you need versatile players, especially at the second level of a defense. Kiser has spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, who drafted him in the fifth round out of Virginia in 2018, and the Denver Broncos last season.

What's the risk: While the 6-foot, 244-pound Kiser has played in 36 games, he has only started 11 times, so there's not a lot of front-line experience there. Especially if the Raiders are counting on him to log a lot of snaps. Still, he did start nine games as an inside linebacker for the Rams in 2020 and has three passes defensed and a fumble. In his career, he has 94 tackles, with 51 solo.


Kyler Fackrell, linebacker

The Raiders and Fackrell agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders continue to add numbers to a depleted linebacker corps. Entering the day, Las Vegas had two LBs in Pro Bowler Denzel Perryman and Divine Deablo. And after adding Fackrell, to go with Micah Kiser, who was signed earlier in the day, the Raiders' new regime got another player for depth, though Fackrell was a third-round pick in 2016 by the Green Bay Packers out of Utah State and has racked up some impressive stats. Playing on the inside, he has started just 19 of the 86 games in which he's played but he has 143 tackles (99 solo) with 23.5 sacks and a pick-six.

What's the risk: The Raiders will be the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Fackrell's fourth team in as many years, after the Packers, New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, so why no staying power for such a physical specimen and thumper? New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham used him on the outside with the Giants in 2020 and Fackrell started a career-best nine games and had that 46-yard pick-six against Dak Prescott. Fackrell, though, is coming off a season-ending knee injury.


Jacob Hollister, tight end

The Raiders and Hollister have agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders now have a crowded tight end room, with Hollister joining Darren Waller, Foster Moreau and Nick Bowers. Hollister, though, should be more than a camp body, given his experience around the league -- he's played for the Jaguars, Seahawks and Patriots since 2017 -- and, as just noted, his experience in new Raiders coach Josh McDaniels' offense in New England. Hollister has started 12 of the 57 games he's played and caught 83 passes for 707 yards and 7 TDs.

What's the risk: None. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hollister is being brought in for depth and understanding. And as long as he fulfills that role for a unit that is a strength for what promises to be a high-powered offense, it should only be a bonus, right?


Kyle Peko, defensive tackle

The Raiders and Peko have agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders have circled back to address the interior of their defensive line, and with Peko, it's looking more and more like a 3-4 base scheme…despite new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham saying such talk of 4-3 vs 3-4 is "outdated." Peko has played for the Broncos, Bills and Titans, starting three of his 21 games. He is coming off a career-high 10 tackles (seven solo) with two sacks and a forced fumble in eight games, three starts, for the Titans last season.

What's the risk: The Raiders already added a starter at defensive tackle in Nichols and still have three of their own DTs on the market in Solomon Thomas, Johnathan Hankins and two injured guys in Gerald McCoy and Darius Philon (Quinton Jefferson signed with Seattle). The risk, then, might be in completely overhauling the defensive line and not bringing back any of the guys who actually played well in spurts. Then again, if you’re overhauling a defense, you need players who fit your scheme, right?


Demarcus Robinson, wide receiver

The Raiders and Robinson have agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders raided a division rival for a wideout, albeit, a guy the Chiefs let walk. Still, Robinson joins a crowded WR corps with Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Tyron Johnson, Dillon Stoner, DJ Turner, Javon Wims and the recently signed Mack Hollins. Whew. Robinson often got lost in the K.C. shuffle behind the likes of receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce but still played in 97 games (starting 41) catching 145 passes for 1,679 yards and 14 TDs in six seasons.

What's the risk: Few, if any. Robinson is a complementary piece, one who should push the likes of Edwards and Hollins. And competition is good. Robinson has plenty of playoff experience as well, catching 14 passes for 220 yards and a score in 13 postseason games. The risk would be in expecting Robinson to be more than he is being brought in to be for the new regime.


Vernon Butler, defensive tackle

The Raiders and Butler have agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders added another big body to their remade interior of the defensive line, giving more evidence that a 3-4 scheme will be the base defense, rather than the 4-3 Las Vegas has run since Warren Sapp donned Silver and Black ... when not in a nickel. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Butler has started 19 of 76 career games and, after being a first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2016, spent the last two years with the Buffalo Bills. He joins Bilal Nichols and Kyle Peko as new Raiders defensive tackles.

What's the risk: Butler's best season was in 2019, when he had six sacks and three forced fumbles among his 32 tackles in 14 games, nine starts. But that was primarily as a defensive end for the Panthers. His production as a tackle the last two years -- no sacks, 29 tackles, three QB hits -- in 24 games with the Bills (10 starts but only one last season) paled in comparison. And the Raiders need him as an interior player.


Duron Harmon, safety

The Raiders and Harmon agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders addressed the need for a veteran presence at safety, what with Harmon having been in the NFL since 2013. That's when he was drafted by -- you guessed it -- New England. Harmon did not became a full-time starter until 2020 with the Lions, though, and started 17 games last season for the Falcons. Harmon, 31, has 21 interceptions and 38 passes defensed in 144 career games.

What's the risk: Where does Harmon play, exactly? You'd think last year's second-round pick, Tre'von Moehrig, is an established starter at free safety, and while Johnathan Abram's pass coverage skills leave a lot to be desired, he has improved against the run in the box. The 6-foot, 205-pound Harmon might have the size to play strong safety, but two years ago he started 16 games at free safety. Last year, the Falcons were interchangeable at both safety spots.


Jayon Brown, linebacker

The Raiders and Brown agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract, the team announced.

What it means: The Raiders continue to add linebackers accustomed to playing in a 3-4 scheme. Brown, a fifth-round pick of the Titans out of UCLA in 2017, started 33 of 40 games at right inside linebacker for Tennessee between 2018 and 2020 and has 9.5 career sacks, four interceptions -- including a pick-six against Andrew Luck in 2018 -- four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, including a scoop and score off a Darren Waller fumble in Oakland in 2019. Brown is active when he's on the field.

What's the risk: Little to none, right? I mean, Brown is the third linebacker the Raiders have signed, along with Micah Kiser and Kyler Fackrell, joining returning Pro Bowl MIKE Denzel Perryman and second-year WILL linebacker Divine Deablo. So it's battle of the fittest, or some such, right? In a 3-4 base, Brown, who missed a month of the season last year with a knee injury, should compete to start inside next to Perryman.