The Las Vegas Raiders continue to stock up at the tight end position with now five players on the roster after the signings of Jason Witten and Nick O’Leary.
The Las Vegas Raiders have loaded up on mid-tier free agents this offseason and their most recent signings have brought their total number to 11. But the one position that has gotten plenty of love is the tight end position.
In total, the Raiders have signed two tight ends, two linebackers, two defensive linemen, one safety, one cornerback, one quarterback, one wide receiver, and one offensive lineman.
But the team had a sizable need at both linebacker and defensive lineman, so signing two at the position was expected. The tight end position, however, it seemed as though the Raiders were already set.
Journeyman Darren Waller broke out in 2019 when finally given a chance at a starting role. Removed from the off-field troubles that nearly ended his career, Waller was second among NFL tight ends in both receptions and receiving yards behind only Travis Kelce.
For football fans, this season came seemingly out of nowhere. But for a Raiders front office and coaching staff who had loved Waller for quite some time now, it wasn’t a surprise.
But not only did the Raiders have one of the best tight ends in football, but they seemed to be carrying excellent depth into 2020. Foster Moreau impressed as a rookie hauling in 21 catches for 174 yards and five touchdowns — two more than Waller had.
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Moreau was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded rookie tight end in 2019 and seemed to be a strong second tight end going into 2020. However, a serious knee injury suffered in early December could force him to miss time at the beginning of next year.
Regardless, veteran Derek Carrier was still under contract and could feasibly hold down that role for the time being. The 29-year-old has established himself as excellent depth and a core special-teamer over his past two years with the Raiders.
The Witten one came as the biggest surprise given that many assumed the soon-to-be 38-year-old would retire once again. But he’s decided to give it another go this time with the Raiders.
It’s a classic Jon Gruden signing, but one that leaves the tight end situation more crowded. Who will be the second tight end when Moreau returns? It seems foolish to take away snaps from Moreau in favor of Witten.
And Witten wasn’t the only other tight end signed. O’Leary seems to fit a similar mold to Carrier as a special-teams ace who also doubles as a blocker. His roster spot certainly isn’t guaranteed, but he’ll serve as additional depth at an already deep position.
Many expected the Raiders to stack up at wide receiver and linebacker in the offseason, but few expected multiple additions at the tight end position during the first week of free agency.
One thing’s for sure, the Raiders should have plenty of depth at tight end going into 2020.
Training camp should make for a fun position battle.