Raiders rumors: Patrick Graham leaving this offseason would be an absolute nightmare

The Las Vegas Raiders recent focus has turned to naming a new GM and head coach, but their defensive coordinator must be brought back in 2024.

The 2023 Las Vegas Raiders may not have reached their ultimate goal of reaching the playoffs, but you have to think they are set up for some long-term success. It is likely that Antonio Pierce and Champ Kelly shed the interim labels this offseason, and are named head coach and general manager, respectively, but those are just the first two big decisions Mark Davis has to make.

While Kelly and Pierce thrived in their interim roles last season, Bo Hardegree struggled in a big way at times, and may not be ready to take on offensive coordinator duties full time. He has a bright future in the NFL, but the Raiders should look at other options for 2024, and there are some exciting candidate available.

When it comes to defensive coordinator, that answer is an easy one, as the Raiders should do everything they can to bring back Patrick Graham. The veteran coordinator took the Raiders defense to new heights last season, and with most of his starting lineup returning, making sure that Graham stays with the Silver and Black has to be priority No. 1.

Las Vegas will have to work hard to keep him, as he is getting head coaching interviews around the league, and they could be wise to make him an Assistant Head Coach to go along with his defensive coordinator role. He was an Assistant Head Coach in his previous stop with the New York Giants, and at only 44-years old, his time is coming for a full-time head coaching job.

As we stated earlier, Graham’s near entire defense will be returning next season, though there are some names we would like seen brought back in free agency. Adam Butler played extremely well down the stretch for Las Vegas, and should be a key defensive tackle next season, while the team could also bring back Bilal Nichols at the position group.

Amik Robertson is the only key defensive back hitting free agency, and the linebacker group is likely to all return in 2024. Of course, the defense is led by Maxx Crosby, who seems to have a strong relationship with both Pierce and Graham, and keeping Madd Maxx happy has become a priority in Las Vegas.

The Raiders have holes to fill on the roster, and a coaching staff to fill out, so one thing they cannot afford is a proven coordinator to leave for another job. If Graham gets a head coaching job, then he is gone, but if he is going to be a defensive coordinator next season, the Raiders losing him to another franchise would be an absolute nightmare.

After taking over for Josh McDaniels as the interim head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Antonio Pierce certainly put his stamp on the team. The Raiders won five of his nine games as head coach, and in the process, took down all three AFC West rivals, including the Kansas City Chiefs on the road late in the season.

However, as an interim head coach, Pierce has had to wait these last few weeks to see if team owner Mark Davis would remove the interim tag and hand the keys to the car to him. While Pierce had no head coach experience before being named the interim head coach, he proved he can lead men, and that is something the Raiders have lacked since Rich Bisaccia’s tenure a few years back.

Dan Graziano, a senior NFL reporter for ESPN feels (Pay Wall) Pierce to the Raiders is imminent, even with them interviewing other candidates, and other teams bringing him in for interviews. Pierce won over the locker room and fans during his nine-game run as interim head coach, and that was not lost on Mark Davis.

Since the end of the season, we have seen multiple posts from Raiders players supporting Pierce, with the biggest name being Maxx Crosby. The all-world defensive end has even spoke of entertaining a trade if Pierce is not brought back in a full-time role, which would be devastating to a Las Vegas defense that is trending in the right direction.

The Raiders did their due diligence when it comes to hiring a new general manager or head coach, and are now free to name their new personnel any day now. For Raiders fans, the hiring of Pierce, and even general manager Champ Kelly feels like a formality at this point, and now the wait begins to see if Davis makes it official.

The Raiders have always looked to make a big splash when it comes to the head coaching spot, and while Pierce may not bring the headlines like Jim Harbaugh or even Bill Belichick, I believe this is his team, and he has earned the right to lead them in 2024. Hopefully, Davis can read the room and make it official sooner than later.

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Gideon Canice

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