The Raiders did bring back left guard Richie Incognito for a third season with the franchise. But Las Vegas’ offensive line will have three new starters in 2021 following all of those moves.
While trading 60 percent of a team’s offensive line would ostensibly not make the unit better, Raiders G.M. Mike Mayock expressed optimism about the players Las Vegas has and what offensive line coach Tom Cable can do with them.
“You know it’s funny, because I think the public perception is, ‘Oh the Raiders, they made a bunch of moves on the offensive line. Therefore, they’re going to be worse there.’ And I’m kind of energized by it, to be really honest with you,” Mayock said during his pre-draft press conference on Thursday. “We re-did our left tackle’s contract, Kolton Miller, and I think that showed our locker room that we were willing to be really aggressive in signing one of our own, and somebody we believe is a cornerstone. And then people are like, ‘You traded away one of the best centers in football.’ And we did. But you can’t make that move unless you think you’e got somebody right behind him that can come in and compete. So we look at an Andre James and a Nick Martin and say, look, we feel like we can compete at center.
“We think we’re getting younger. I’m excited and energized by what our offensive line room is starting to look like. And I’m excited and energized because I think Tom Cable feels the same way. So we have all the respect in the world for Rodney and Gabe and Trent, but at this point, we made a conscious decision to try to get younger, maybe a little bit more athletic. And let’s go. And I can’t wait to see how we react.”
After a rocky rookie year marked by injury, Miller has been a steady presence on the left side of the Raiders’ line. He started 14 games last year before receiving a three-year contract extension at the end of March.
As of now, Miller, Incognito, James — who received a contract extension of his own, despite starting only one career game — and Denzelle Good appear at least penciled in as starters. But left tackle remains a mystery. Mayock floated the idea that Jaryd Jones-Smith could start there, but he has not played an offensive NFL snap in three pro seasons.