Dating back to before the regular season ended, it was being reported that wide receiver Michael Crabtree was on his way out in Oakland. The 30 year old wide receiver is coming off one of the worst seasons in his career, and one which didn’t quite live up to the nearly seven million dollars he made. The silver and black will need to go out and get another weapon for quarterback Derek Carr, and with a weak draft class, they might have to look to free agency. This weekend, a bromance has formed at the Pro Bowl, and it may pay dividends for the Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders and Jarvis Landry
The Bro Bowl
Derek Carr’s involvement in the Pro Bowl was a surprising one. We in the Raider Nation know that the young gun has all the potential in the world, but 2017 was not a good season. It wasn’t entirely number four’s fault, as he was recovering from several injuries, had an inept coaching staff, and his receivers couldn’t seem to hold on to passes. Carr had his worst statistical season since his rookie year. However, “the chosen one” is still very popular with fans and his fellow players, so he made the all-star game for the third straight season.
Regardless, it became very apparent that Carr had made a friend very early in the all-star game. The duo teamed up during the Best Hands competition, and were very complimentary of each other. Even the Raiders official twitter got involved.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) January 26, 2018
Who is Jarvis Landry?
Jarvis Landry has played wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins for the first four years of his career, and he’s averaged 100 catches, 1,010 yards, and six touchdowns a season so far. Despite the fact that he was playing with Jay Cutler this season in one of the worst offenses in football, Landry managed to catch 112 catches for nearly 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. However, that’s a bit of a strange stat.
How in the world does someone catch 112 passes and not even break 1,000 yards? He seems like a ball magnet, but he’s only averaged more than 10 yards per catch in two of his four seasons. Landry averaged 8.8 yards per attempt in 2017, and that’s atrocious. However, I think that if any fanbase can empathize with Landry’s struggles, it’s the Raider Nation.
Yards Per Catch vs. Yards Per Attempt?
After all, Carr’s yards per attempt average of 6.5 is brutal. For reference, in 2017, Trevor Siemian averaged 6.5 yards per attempt, and he had the 26th worst average in the National Football League. Now, the Raider Nation knows why Carr’s average is low. As a rookie, and strangely enough, in 2017, Carr was stuck in an offense that favored safe check-downs and screens. For some reason, both coaching staffs were able to look at Carr, who has a fantastic arm, and this receiving corps, who are all pretty fast, and thought they should run the most conservative version of the west coast in NFL history.
In a way, Landry faced the same problem in Miami. It’s not as if he’s a slow receiver or he doesn’t dominate yards after catch. In 2017 alone, nearly 52% of his yards came after the catch. He’s got good moves in the open field and can make plays. I think that he was just limited by the Dolphin offense, just like Carr was with Todd Downing’s offense.
The Money Issue
Inevitably, someone will see the headline of this article, perhaps on Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook, and haughtily say “you buffoon, the Raiders simply lack the finances to bring on such a weapon!” except with several typos, a slur or two, and a gif of Ray Liotta laughing at me. For those of you who actually read this article, thank you. Here’s why @RyanSmith_NFLHater38 is wrong.
General manager Reggie McKenzie is a very controversial figure in the eyes of the Raider Nation, but he builds contracts so well that even his biggest detractors will confess he does so, immediately before jumping into how McKenzie only drafts injury-prone players while insisting we should’ve drafted Reuben Foster. So many of McKenzie’s free agent signings can be released without losing any money against the cap.
This off-season, Khalil Mack, Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith, Rodney Hudson, Bruce Irvin, Michael Crabtree, David Amerson, Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook, Cordarrelle Patterson, Marshall Newouse could all be released and the Raiders wouldn’t owe a dime. Obviously, several of these players are too valuable, but I could see Smith, Irvin, Crabtree, Amerson, Lynch, and Newhouse hitting the market.
If the Raiders released all of those players, they’d free up $38,171,875, which even with the re-signing of Khalil Mack, is a respectable amount of cash. The Raiders would have roughly $53,041,538 in cap space, and if Mack takes a similar contract to what Von Miller received, around $19 million a season, the team would still have about $34 million in free space.
The Case For
In his career, Landry has dropped 12 passes total. He dropped five passes three years ago, and hasn’t had more than three since. That seems like a lot, but the Raiders would love to have 12 drops over four seasons. According to foxsports.com, Carr had 28 passes dropped in 2017. For some perspective, Tom Brady only had 16 dropped passes this season. Joe Flacco’s offense, which lacks a serious number one receiver, only dropped the ball 20 times. Derek Carr’s receivers dropped more passes than a team that features Breshad Perriman. The Raiders could use a receiver that actually holds onto the ball.
The Case Against
The reality is that the Oakland Raiders do have bigger needs than receiver. They need a pass rusher to play with Khalil Mack, some major help in the secondary, and help along the offensive line. Spotrac.com reports that Landry’s market value will be nearly $14 million a season, and the Raiders might not want to commit that much to a receiver, especially a receiver that isn’t that different from Amari Cooper.
He’s nowhere near as athletic as Cooper, but he’s a receiver that would definitely be better out of the slot than out wide. Two years ago, he played 72% of his snaps out of the slot, and you wonder if he is capable of being a true number two receiver in an offense that isn’t catering to his specific skillset.
Now, that’s not to say he couldn’t thrive in Oakland. Jon Gruden is known for his creative offense, and if he can recognize what it is that Landry does well, he could be a productive option for Oakland. However, Amari Cooper would have to step his game up, and really become a number one receiver. And if Landry isn’t going to be the number one receiver, can you really justify paying him $13 million a season?
You could probably get a Sammy Watkins or a Donte Moncrief for cheaper and they’d be a better fit for what the Oakland Raiders need on offense. Someone like Eric Decker or Taylor Gabriel could be cheap players that could make a big impact on the offense as well.
To Sign or Not To Sign
It’s really hard to say whether the Raiders should sign Jarvis Landry or not. On one hand, he’s a reliable receiver and an underrated athlete that could potentially come in and give the Raiders passing offense another level. On the other, he won’t come cheap, and there’s a distinct possibility that he doesn’t fit into the Raider offense. It’ll remain to be seen, but if Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie both agree that he’s a good addition, it’ll be hard to disagree.