The Raiders lost last season’s most productive wide receiver in free agency as Nelson Agholor singed with the New England Patriots. In an effort to replace his contributions, they’ve signed two additional pass catchers: John Brown and Willie Snead. So how does Snead’s profile fit the Raiders?
The Raiders’ news on Friday didn’t pertain to their ongoing work in rebuilding their scuffling defense. Instead, Las Vegas entered the weekend making another move on offense as the Raiders signed wide receiver Willie Snead to a one-year deal, the team announced.
Snead has spent the last three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, finishing his tenure in Baltimore with 33 receptions, 432 yards, and three touchdowns in 2020. His best years came early in his career with the New Orleans Saints, where he topped 800-plus yards in 2015 and 2016.
“Back when I was in New Orleans it was more of that West Coast spread type of deal and I was able to move around to a whole bunch of places,” said Snead. “I was a versatile player during that time. And in this type of offense, the more you can do, they’ll keep you on the field.”
The glaring needs on defense for 2021 haven’t detoured Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock from adding to their offense, which ranked top 10 last season. The Las Vegas wide receiver room already had a surplus of options and on Friday, they added one more to the mix in Snead.
That room includes Henry Ruggs, last year’s 12th overall pick, and Bryan Edwards, who looks to put his injury-battled rookie season behind him. Also, Hunter Renfrow, Derek Carr’s go-to option on third downs, and John Brown, a recent free-agent addition, will also require a healthy dose of targets in the passing game.
Snead has done most of his work in the NFL from the slot alignment. And the Raiders already have Renfrow who’s expected to secure the starting job. For Snead to see any volume of targets in the Raiders’ congested pass-catching group, he’ll presumably be asked to take on a role where he can be used in a multitude of ways.
“They (the Raiders) have a lot of great talent in the (wide receiver) room already and they’re bringing me in to just build on top of that,” said Snead. “And what I bring into that room is a toughness, a leadership role, a veteran presence and just going out there to make plays. I’m excited for the competition. I just want to be able to mold myself in there and contribute where I can, so I invite competition. I love the aspect of that part and Gruden seems to be all about competing and making guys better, so that fits my mold.”
Snead has reached the playoffs in each of his last four seasons. Over the course of his career, Snead has been apart of winning cultures quite regularly and mentions he hopes to bring that same mindset with him to the Raiders locker room.
“I’ve been a part of being with veterans like Drew Brees and other guys of that nature, so I know what it takes to win,” said Snead. “I’ve been a part of winning cultures. I definitely think that bringing me or bringing in a John Brown, those type of guys, we can definitely change the culture here.”
Last season, the Raiders started the year with a 6-3 record before eventually going 2-5 down the stretch and missing the playoffs for the fourth-straight season. Now entering year four since Gruden returned, the clock is ticking particularly fast for his team to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
“This organization is right on the cusp of being in the playoffs,” said Snead. “I was watching from a distance last year, and this organization won a lot of great games, a lot of close games last year. Sometimes it just takes one or two pieces to get over that hump. I’m hoping I can be that piece.”
The Raiders’ current wide receiver group shapes up as such:
Stay tuned for more Raiders news as the build up to the NFL Draft next month goes into high gear.