1. Maxx Crosby
Generating anything resembling a quality pass rush has arguably been Gruden’s biggest failing as the Raiders’ head coach. Crosby arrived with modest expectations back in 2019 as a fourth-round pick, but he’s made a big impact for Las Vegas’ weak defensive front.
The former Eastern Michigan star can’t hit the open market until 2023, but Las Vegas shouldn’t wait to engage him in talks about extending his stay in Sin City. Paying him like one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers would be a costly mistake. However, paying him as an above-average starter could turn into a massive bargain if Crosby blossoms into a consistent double-digit sack artist.
The trick in these negotiations will be finding a number that provides both parties with upside. The Raiders should be able to take advantage of the fact that Crosby hasn’t made big money in his career after coming into the league as a mid-round pick. Locking in considerable guaranteed money before hitting free agency could appeal to Crosby as a result.
Mayock’s idea should be to lock Crosby into a contract that pays him like a high-quality No. 2 edge rusher. That shouldn’t stop the Raiders from continuing their search for a premier sack artist, but locking Crosby up can raise the floor of the team’s pass rush for years to come.