Maxx Crosby could be set to have his best year yet in the AFC West

We asked a Raiders expert to tell us more about the remade Raiders defense and what has been overlooked this offseason.
Las Vegas Raiders OTA Offseason Workout
Las Vegas Raiders OTA Offseason Workout / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

One of the best ways a team can get better quickly is to ease the burden on the team's best players. As the cornerstones of a team are given more space or ability to do what they do best, they carry the rest of the roster with them. So goes the Las Vegas Raiders' offseason plans to get the most that they can out of Pro Bowl pass rusher Maxx Crosby.

The Raiders made a big splash in free agency this offseason with the signing of former Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. It was their hope to pin him next to Crosby in order to free up one or the other to make life miserable for the opposing quarterback. Given how Crosby has looked against even the best—yes, even Patrick Mahomes—the addition of Wilkins could be quite scary.

But that wasn't the Raiders only move of the offseason. We wanted to get a better idea of what we should be thinking about the Raiders, and specifically to get a glimpse of what we might have overlooked. So we turned to our friend Austin Boyd, site expert at Just Blog Baby, to tell us more about the Raiders' spring and summer.

What's being missed by the national media when it comes to the Raiders offseason?

The national media is typically tough on the Raiders and it's hard to blame them. The franchise has two winning seasons across the last 20 years. However, the media has been particularly tough on the offseason signing of Christian Wilkins.

Bleacher Report recently said that the Raiders will regret giving the star defensive tackle a four-year, $110 million contract while ESPN gave the team a "D" grade for their offseason and largely pointed to the Wilkins signing as a reason for the poor grade.

So far, Wilkins has been everything the Raiders asked for. Antonio Pierce said that Wilkins and Maxx Crosby are the first people in the building every day and the two dominated mandatory minicamp. A big factor many in the media seem to ignore is what Wilkins does for Crosby. The Defensive Player of the Year finalist has never had a chance to play with a defensive tackle that is even close to as talented as Wilkins. That should lead to both players having an easier time putting up big stats.

Defensive tackle has been an issue for the Raiders for years at this point so going out and spending big on the best one in free agency wasn't a bad idea. There were other teams willing to pay Wilkins so the Raiders had to give him a competitive offer. The only way they regret that deal is if Wilkins takes a big step back but that seems unlikely based on the work ethic he's showing to the team thus far.

Is there anything being overlooked, in your opinion, on the offensive side?

Jakobi Meyers might be the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. He's broken 800 receiving yards in three straight seasons and the Raiders really took advantage of his versatility last season as he had two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown last season.

Davante Adams gets most of the headlines because he's one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL but head coach Antonio Pierce has said multiple times that Meyers is good enough to be a WR1 on a lot of teams. Meyers is as humble and low-key as they come so he's not searching for the spotlight but he'll be an important part of what the Raiders do this season, especially with Hunter Renfrow getting cut loose.

Las Vegas has one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL but nobody seems to acknowledge that.

Was keeping Antonio Pierce the right move?

There's certainly a level of risk hiring Antonio Pierce to be the full-time head coach. He just doesn't have much experience coaching at the NFL level. However, what's important is that he knows what he doesn't know and has surrounded himself with a ton of experience. That's a breath of fresh air after the team dealt with an egomaniac like Josh McDaniels.

While going after a big fish like Jim Harbaugh would've been hard to argue against, keeping Pierce was the right move. The players love him and there may have been a revolt if Mark Davis canned a second beloved interim coach in just three years.

Also, Pierce is cheap and easy to move on from if he doesn't work out. The Raiders have had so many coaches over the last two decades so why not take a big swing on a young coach who has showed some promise? If he ends up being no good, the team is just in the same position they've been in for the last 20 years.