Raiders bring back center Andre James, answering one of their O-line questions



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Las Vegas Raiders general manager Tom Telesco talked recently about rebuilding the offensive line, but he decided to patch up one of the holes by bringing back center Andre James on the eve of free agency. James and the Raiders agreed to a three-year deal worth $24 million, the former undrafted player’s third contract with the team in five years.

James, who will turn 27 in May, was ranked 81st on our list of the top 150 free agents. He started 48 games the last three seasons, missing only three games due to injury. He came in with left tackle Kolton Miller in 2019 and gives the Raiders some consistency on that side of the line. Left guard Dylan Parham, long rumored to be James’ eventual successor at center, will stay put for another season. Still, the Raiders will likely have to replace right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and right guard Greg Van Roten, both of whom are free agents.

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How he fits: James will retain his role as the starting center. The Raiders considered moving left guard Dylan Parham to center this offseason but were concerned about getting outpriced in the guard market, according to a league source. Ultimately, they decided bringing back James and keeping Parham at guard was a more prudent path forward than paying the price it would’ve taken to sign two starting-caliber guards in free agency.

It’s similar to what happened last year when Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels considered cutting James because, after all, they drafted Parham to play center. But they, too, were scared off by the guard market.

2024 impact: James is a smart, solid player who has some quickness at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds but can get overpowered at times. Coach Antonio Pierce credited James with helping rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell prepare for all the defensive looks when he replaced the benched Jimmy Garoppolo last season. The Raiders had the fewest penalties in the league with 75, and James only had two.

History: James was an undersized tackle at UCLA and was a Tom Cable project at center who has paid off. He has been with the Raiders for all of his five seasons as a pro and has been the starting center since 2021. He hasn’t been exceptional, but he has consistently played at a solid level and rarely misses games. The week after the Super Bowl, he fired his previous agent, Jeremy Newberry, according to a league source. He signed with agent David Canter shortly thereafter to handle the deal that brought him back to Las Vegas.

Cap update: This deal has $16 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network, but we don’t know the annual breakdown. The Raiders had $41.6 million in cap space available before cutting defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (a cap hit of $375,000) and re-signing third-string running back Ameer Abdullah.

Outlook: The Raiders know what they have in James, and you can’t put a price on comfort and popular teammates in the locker room. Or apparently, you can. This gives Telesco fewer holes to plug when business starts Monday. And James could also improve under new offensive line coach James Cregg, who is coming over from the San Francisco 49ers. The Raiders linemen were not big fans of McDaniels or his O-line coach, Carmen Bricillo, who stayed on after McDaniels was fired but left for the New York Giants staff last month.

(Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images)





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