The rich keep getting richer, and in this context, the AFC West are the rich. Just a few days after the Denver Broncos swung a franchise-altering trade for future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson, the Los Angeles Chargers followed it up by landing three-time All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack.
Between Mack and Joey Bosa, the Chargers now have one of the best defensive end duos in NFL history. This sets them up perfectly to contend with the Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos.
However, while the Wilson and Mack trades may be exciting to most NFL fans, it’s extremely concerning news for the Las Vegas Raiders, who have yet to make any notable additions this offseason. In particular, it’s worrying news for long-time Raiders QB Derek Carr.
Landing Khalil Mack valuts the Chargers over the Raiders
Many felt the Chargers were the second-best team in the AFC West last season. Led by an ascending Justin Herbert and an encouraging first-year head coach Brandon Staley, LA had all the pieces in place to make a deep playoff run.
However, the Raiders — led by Derek Carr — felt otherwise. Despite battling controversy and drama at every turn during the regular season, the Raiders found a way to sneak into the postseason at the very last minute. They were quickly bounced from the playoffs by the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. However, it was still a strong season for Las Vegas.
However, moving into 2022, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Chargers finish below the Raiders again.
Not only will Herbert and Staley both continue improving, but now they have the best pass rush in the division. One could reasonably argue they have the best pass rush in the entire NFL. Not many teams can say they have two superstar defensive ends on the roster.
Khalil Mack should scare the Las Vegas front office into a rebuild
There was already minor conversation taking place in Las Vegas, hinting at a rebuild. It just hired a new general manager and head coach. Common sense suggests the duo would prefer stripping down the roster and building things back up in their own image.
With Russell Wilson and Khalil Mack entering the division, it’s only a matter of time before the Raiders admit they can’t keep up with the rest of their division.
Derek Carr is still a very good quarterback, all things considered. However, he’s the worst QB in the AFC West, and that’s what matters at the moment. Unless GM Dave Ziegler and HC Josh McDaniels have a few tricks up their sleeves, there’s simply no way the Raiders can compete with the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers in 2022.
The Raiders should trade Derek Carr
To bring this conversation full circle, the most obvious move that needs to happen in Las Vegas is the trading of Carr.
He’s entering the final year of his current contract and would fetch a significant return on the trade market now that Aaron Rodgers and Wilson are off the board. Las Vegas could potentially get more than one first-round pick back in return.
It’s never a fun idea, trading away one’s franchise quarterback. However, with the state of the AFC West these days, the best thing Las Vegas can do is embrace the rebuild, as painful as that process may be.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.