Raiders' Top Free Agents to Consider for Franchise Tag, RFA Contract Tenders

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2022

Raiders' Top Free Agents to Consider for Franchise Tag, RFA Contract Tenders

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders can start making the moves that will mold the 2022 roster with the opening of the franchise tag window.

    Teams can officially utilize one of the few tools that they have to ensure free agents will be on their rosters next year. They have from now until March 8 to employ the one-year contract option.

    As explained by Kevin Patra of Around the NFL, there are three versions of the franchise tag. All three of which (non-exclusive, exclusive and transition) are one-year contracts that are based on the average of the top-paid players at their position.

    It all but guarantees a player stays with his current club. But using them comes at a cost. The price tag is usually exorbitant, and it can cause a rift between franchises and the players who want to get some long-term security.

    So the first question new Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler gets to answer is whether any of their the team's crop of free agents is worthy of the tag. Las Vegas also has some decisions to make regarding restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents.

Franchise Tag: No Strong Candidates

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    The franchise tag isn't right for every team. In fact, only 10 teams utilized the function last season. There weren't many surprises, with Cam Robinson and Taylor Moton perhaps being the only ones that weren't expected.

    Neither played like a top tackle, but they both could have found long-term deals elsewhere.

    This year, the Raiders should once again be in the larger group of teams that doesn't use the tag. The only free agent who would be even close to being worth it is Casey Hayward Jr.

    The corner had a nice bounce-back year after being cast aside by the Los Angeles Chargers. The 32-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Raiders, and Pro Football Focus said he went on to grade out as "one of the best cornerbacks in football."

    However, the tag for corners is projected to be around $17.3 million, per Over the Cap. That's a massive pay bump from the $2.5 million he made last season and a far cry from the one-year $6.5 million that PFF projects he will earn this offseason.

    That leaves the Raiders with no clear options deserving of the tag.

Restricted Free Agent: FB Alec Ingold

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    Restricted free agent tenders are another weapon teams can use to keep some of their players. Restricted free agency is limited to players who have three accrued seasons and are on an expiring contract.

    Those players are eligible to receive one of a series of tenders that allow teams the right to match a contract or receive compensation if they are signed by another team. The Raiders have four players who qualify: tackle Jackson Barton, safety Dallin Leavitt, cornerback Keisean Nixon and fullback Alec Ingold.

    Of those options, Ingold should be the only one considered for a tender. Even then, it would be the lowest tender available, which is the Right to Refusal tender. According to Over the Cap, that would be a one-year, $2.4 million pact.

    That would allow the Raiders to match any offer Ingold would get. However, it's a pretty big increase from the $853,334 he made last season or even the $1.6 million valuation he got from Over the Cap.

    Some teams don't even carry a fullback on the roster, but it's worth noting the New England Patriots had one in Jakob Johnson last year. However, a $2.4 million deal would make Ingold the fifth-highest paid fullback in the league.

    It's much more likely that the Raiders don't use a tender and just re-sign Ingold to a contract with a small raise on his 2021 salary.

Exclusive Rights Free Agent: S Roderic Teamer

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    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    The final tool at the Raiders disposal is the exclusive rights free agent tender. This applies to any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract.

    A team can offer a one-year deal to these players at the league minimum, and the player can't negotiate with other teams. It's usually reserved for young players who went undrafted and wind up going year-to-year during the campaigns they would have played on a rookie deal if they were drafted.

    The Raiders only have two players with this designation: safety Roderic Teamer and tight end Nick Bowers.

    Of the two, Teamer is the one who could be a priority to bring back. The 24-year-old found a role on the team this season as a special teamer and backup safety. He appeared in 10 games and was called upon to start two.

    In those games, he flashed solid coverage ability with a passer rating allowed of 76.7 on 22 targets. That was a marked improvement over 2020, when he played in seven games and gave up a passer rating of 106.6.

    That development should be enough to guarantee him another year on the roster, especially at the minimum.

                    

    All salary and contract information via Spotrac unless otherwise noted. Advanced stats according to Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

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