OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12)
OPEN CAMP: July 27, Napa, California
LAST YEAR: Jon Gruden’s first season back in Oakland was a disappointment. Star edge rusher Khalil Mack was traded before season following contract holdout and top receiver Amari Cooper was dealt in October. Defense never made up for Mack’s absence and offense had few playmakers and provided little protection for QB Derek Carr. Result was first last-place finish since 2014.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WRs Antonio Brown, Ryan Grant and Tyrell Williams, T Trent Brown, DEs Clelin Ferrell and Benson Mayowa, RB Josh Jacobs, Ss Lamarcus Joyner and Johnathan Abram, CB Trayvon Mullen, OL Richie Incognito, LBs Vontaze Burfict and LB Brandon Marshall.
MPORTANT LOSSES: TEs Lee Smith and Jared Cook, RB Marshawn Lynch, WRs Seth Roberts and Jordy Nelson, OL Kelechi Osemele, DBs Rashaan Melvin, DB Marcus Gilchrist and DB Reggie Nelson, DL Frostee Rucker, T Donald Penn.
CAMP NEEDS: Big-ticket offensive additions in free agency period and draft have that side of ball mostly set heading into camp. Finding best combination on defense will be task this summer. Ferrell being counted on as three-down lineman to be strong vs. run and provide needed pass rush for team with NFL-low 13 sacks in 2018. Finding end to play opposite Ferrell and figuring out best combinations at safety, linebacker will be paramount.
EXPECTATIONS: Raiders looking for positive send-off in final season in Oakland before planned move to Las Vegas. Competing in tough AFC West with Chiefs and Chargers will be difficult. But offense should be more dynamic with Brown and Williams out wide, Jacobs as main running back and Carr in second season in Gruden’s system. Success will depend on 2018 first-round LT Kolton Miller giving Carr time to throw, and defense taking major step forward behind young DLs Ferrell, Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall, and improved secondary led by CB Gareon Conley.