One of the most difficult decisions the Raiders will have to make this offseason is what to do with their offensive line. When everyone is healthy, they are among the league’s best with Pro Bowlers at left guard, center and right tackle. Unfortunately, age and injuries have started to catch up with the unit.
While nothing is certain, the team is likely to cut Pro Bowl left guard Richie Incognito this offseason. Incognito has been excellent when he’s played, but he’s appeared in just 14 games over the last two seasons. He’ll turn 38 this offseason and is coming off an Achilles injury, so he might decide to retire. If that’s the case, the Raiders will save upwards of $6 million.
If the Raiders move on from Incognito, they will likely bring back Denzelle Good in free agency and allow him to take over that spot. Second-year player John Simpson could also compete for that role if needed.
The bigger question is what does the team do at right tackle? After giving Trent Brown a record-setting contract in 2019, he’s started just 16 games over the last two seasons. He’s also left numerous games due to injuries and has played just 832 snaps since 2019.
When he’s on the field, Brown is among the best offensive tackles in the entire NFL, but he’s played more than 11 games just twice in his NFL career and the injury history is becoming a major concern. If the Raiders were to cut him this offseason, they could save $14 million with no dead cap hit. They would have a hole at right tackle, but Brandon Parker and Sam Young (UFA) proved to be competent at times this season.
Another factor that has to be weighing on Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden’s mind is the depth of the offensive tackles in the first round of the draft. Sitting at pick No. 17, they could very well select a plug-and-play offensive tackle at that spot.
Players such as Rashawn Slater (Northwestern) and Christian Dillashaw (Virginia Tech) are both projected to go in that range and appear to be long-term starters in the NFL. If the Raiders wanted to get younger (and cheaper) on the offensive line, that might be the best strategy here as they could use the added cap space to address their pass rush or secondary with proven players.
How the Raiders fix and improve their offensive line will be interesting to watch this offseason. We know that their team is built around those five guys up front dominating their opponents, but it might be time to consider moving on from expensive, often injured players, including Trent Brown.