Raiders' Top Trade Candidates Ahead of 2021 Training Camp

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2021

Raiders' Top Trade Candidates Ahead of 2021 Training Camp

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    Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

    Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have been no strangers to the trade market this offseason. 

    Every team experiences player movement in the spring and summer, but Las Vegas has gone to the trade well more than most. It has shipped off three experienced offensive linemen in Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson as it looks to reshape the offensive line. 

    That doesn't mean more surprise moves are off the table, though. The Raiders have proved they will make moves that aren't easily predicted, such as moving on from 2020 third-round selection Lynn Bowden Jr. before last season. 

    While that situation is unlikely to be repeated, it does show that if the Raiders feel there might be more value in moving on from a player as camp starts, they won't be afraid to pull the trigger. 

    Whether it's because the player doesn't fit with the culture they are trying to create, they have a surplus of players at a position or they want to free up some cap space, here are a few candidates the Raiders could look to trade at some point. 

LB Cory Littleton

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Cory Littleton headlined the Raiders' free-agent class in 2020 when they handed him a three-year, $35.3 million contract. However, Year 1 of that deal didn't go how they'd hoped. 

    The 27-year-old provided little of the playmaking he had come to be known for as part of the Rams defense. He had no sacks and only four tackles for loss after racking up 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in his last two seasons in Los Angeles. 

    More importantly, he had no ball production in coverage, which was one of his greatest selling points as a free agent. He registered five interceptions and 22 pass breakups in his final two seasons with L.A. but had none for the Raiders. 

    Ditching Paul Guenther for Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator might help Littleton, but the new coach wants to see more physicality from his linebacker. 

    "I've been impressed with his speed. He's a very skilled linebacker," Bradley said, per Levi Damien of Raiders Wire. "One of the things is his physical nature, that's the things we’re looking at right now and challenging him on. He has it in him."

    Bradley went on to praise his athleticism and coverage skills so he could enjoy a resurgent season in Las Vegas. Or the franchise could decide he's not a fit with what it wants and saves money on the cap next season by dealing him. 

WR Zay Jones

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Mayock and Co. actually re-signed Zay Jones to a one-year deal during free agency, but it's not really clear why at this point.

    The 26-year-old saw action in all 16 games with the Raiders last season but was only targeted 20 times, coming down with 14 of them for 154 yards on the season. In short, he was an afterthought. 

    That didn't stop them from bringing him back, but he'll have even more competition for snaps this season. They also brought in John Brown and Willie Snead IV in the wake of losing Nelson Agholor.

    Throw in assumed growth for second-year players Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards and the steady presence of Hunter Renfrow, and it becomes difficult to figure out where Jones fits in the receiver rotation. 

    The Raiders spent a fifth-round pick to trade for the East Carolina product from Buffalo where he was a second-round selection in 2017. Thus far, he has just one season with meaningful production. In his second season with the Bills, he posted 652 yards and seven touchdowns. 

    If there's a team willing to part with a pick to see if it can bring that out of Jones, there isn't much reason the Raiders wouldn't pull the trigger. 

CB Nevin Lawson

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    One position that is suddenly getting crowded is cornerback. After signing Casey Hayward Jr. and Rasul Douglas this offseason, the Raiders gave themselves even more options at a position where they already had quite a few. 

    They also lessened their need for veterans. There are plenty of young corners they should be looking to get on the field, and 2020 draftees Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson should see even more snaps than they did last season. 

    Even 2021 fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs has drawn early praise. Paul Gutierrez of ESPN recently called him his surprise player to know from the Raiders' minicamp, noting how he impressed while working in the slot alongside Robertson and Nevin Lawson

    If that trend continues it could make Lawson obsolete in the secondary. With veterans like Hayward and Douglas on the roster, it isn't as though they need to keep him around just for the sake of having experience. 

    The 30-year-old has been a consistent contributor over the last two seasons, but his usefulness in Vegas may be over. 

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