That the Las Vegas Raiders participated in a playoff game is a pleasant surprise after what they’ve been through all season.
Aside from playing on a new home field in front of their fans, they also experienced abrupt coaching and roster changes.
It looked like they were out of postseason contention when the Raiders were 6-7 with four games left to play.
But they swept their remaining games, including a dramatic Week 18 finish against the Los Angeles Chargers, to clinch a Wild Card spot.
Unfortunately, their good fortune ended when they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia hand wrote Thank You notes to all his players after their loss to the Bengals 🥺
— PFF (@PFF) January 17, 2022
The Raiders can start building for the 2022 NFL season with their season over.
Here’s where they can start to upgrade their team for next year.
2. Get Another Wide Receiver
Losing Henry Ruggs III threw off their passing game to some extent.
However, they eventually adjusted and finished the regular season with the sixth-best passing offense, averaging 268.6 yards per game.
Hunter Renfrow has gone OFF this season:
Targets: 128 1st
Receptions: 103* 1st
Rec. Yds: 1,038 1st
Rec. TDs: 9 1st
*2nd MOST in season by a Raiders wide receiver EVER pic.twitter.com/Vr3BP2dh71
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 11, 2022
Tight end Darren Waller also finished with the second-most receiving yards behind Renfrow.
However, their Super Wild Card game against the Bengals highlighted their dire need to bring in reinforcements at wide receiver.
Waller led the team with 76 yards against Cincinnati, while Jones was the only one to score a touchdown.
Renfrow and Edwards finished with 58 and 41 yards, respectively.
While their receivers can get the job done, the Raiders do not have someone who can stretch the field on any given play.
Therefore, the next Raiders general manager has some tinkering to do.
Mike Mayock is out as the Raiders’ general manager, per the team.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2022
He must decide if they’ll sign their receivers to long-term deals.
Jones’ contract will expire by the end of the 2021 season, while Renfrow has one year left on his rookie deal.
Aside from their current receivers, they can also bring in a free-agent wideout and use some of their $40 million cap space for 2022.
The Raiders can also select a wide receiver with the No. 22 pick in the draft.
Selecting the draft route might be tricky because they might run out of top talent when they choose.
However, Las Vegas will be lucky to get anyone from Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Drake London, Chris Olave, or Treylon Burks.
1. Improve The Offensive Line
Carr finished the regular season with the fifth-most sacks absorbed at 40.
Rookie Alex Leatherwood manifested some struggles in the guard and tackle positions despite winning the 2020 Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.
However, their line problems went beyond the 2021 first-rounder, and losing Richie Incognito to injured reserve didn’t help either.
The #Raiders offensive line has been taking points off the board all season. Seems like they save their worst penalties for the red zone every week.
— Raiders Beat (@RaidersBeat) January 16, 2022
Like their need at wide receiver, the Raiders can either bring in a free agent or upgrade via the draft.
If they go through the draft, some of the prospects they must target are Evan Neal, Charles Cross, Ikem Ekwonu, Bernhard Raimann, and Trevor Penning.
Aside from protecting Carr, refining their offensive line can help the Raiders get more out of their backfield.
The Raiders offensive line is going to make me cry
— Joe Middleton (@joejsmiddleton) January 16, 2022
While the Raiders ranked 11th in total yards per game, they were 28th in rushing yards at 95.1.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only playoff team with a worse clip than Las Vegas.