Raiders agree to deals with QB Gardner Minshew and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The Las Vegas Raiders were busy on the first day teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents, agreeing to contracts Monday with quarterback Gardner Minshew and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Minshew agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the contract said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the first day contracts can be signed is Wednesday when the new league year begins.

Wilkins agreed to a four-year, $110 contract with $84.75 million guaranteed, agent David Mulugheta said.

The Raiders announced they had re-signed center Andre James. He has been on the club since signing in 2019 as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA. The 26-year-old James has been the starter since 2021.

Minshew, 27, is expected to compete with Aidan O'Connell to be the starting quarterback. O'Connell became the midseason starter last year, and the Raiders went 5-4 after he took over.

But O'Connell acknowledged after the season ended that he expected to fight for the position next season.

“There hasn’t been a lot of years I’ve been the unquestioned starter going in, so I’m used to competing,” O’Connell said at the time. “I had to compete to get to this spot that I’m in. I also think it would be right to have competition in this league. It’s the NFL. It’s the best of the best, so it’s my job to try to keep my job.”

The Raiders, who pick 13th, could still draft a quarterback this year. Signing Minshew could allow the club to bring a rookie along slowly rather than ask him to play right away, especially because the top available quarterbacks likely will be gone by the time Las Vegas' turn in the draft comes, barring a trade up.

Minshew, a sixth-round pick in 2019, took over as Indianapolis' starter when Anthony Richardson injured his shoulder in Week 5. The Colts finished 9-8 and nearly made the playoffs. Minshew threw for 3,302 yards and 15 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

He also has played for Philadelphia and Jacksonville, starting 37 career games. Minshew has a career 90.2 quarterback rating.

Wilkins, 28, played his first five seasons for the Miami Dolphins, with whom he became one of the NFL's top run stoppers. He set a league record in 2022 for his position with 98 tackles. The Raiders were 20th last season in run defense, allowing 118.5 yards per game.

Wilkins' ability to get to the quarterback had been questioned after he recorded 11 1/2 sacks through his first four seasons. However, he made a career-high nine sacks last season, fourth among tackles.

That should make Wilkins a nice complement to ends Maxx Crosby and Malcolm Koonce, who combined to make 22 1/2 sacks last season. The Raiders also have 2023 first-round pick Tyree Wilson, who was moved inside, where he showed promise, but he still needs to improve on his 3 1/2 sacks.

Wilkins, a 2019 first-round draft pick, has started 77 games over five seasons.