Derek Carr was sacked 51 times in 2018, on 8.4 percent of his drop backs, career highs by a large margin. The Raiders quarterback was under siege last season, working with two rookie tackles and a banged up interior.
First-round left tackle Kolton Miller and veteran right guard Gabe Jackson played hurt most of the year. Left guard Kelechi Osemele went down several times. Donald Penn wasn't available beyond the early season, leaving third-round right tackle Brandon Parker playing far too much.
Center Rodney Hudson remained elite, but couldn't make up for every problem as the Raiders struggled to find offensive footing.
Line struggles represented a swift fall from grace for one of the NFL's dominant fronts. They were excellent in two previous seasons, with Carr rarely touched and the running game efficient enough.
Fixing that issue was a high priority. Trent Brown's paycheck makes that clear. They gave him a record $66 million over four years, with $36.2 million guaranteed. To play right tackle.
Wrap your head around that. If Brown is dominant off one side, it'll be money well spent.
Coaches have faith Miller will develop into an excellent player, and Hudson and Jackson will be as good as ever. Osemele's eight-figure cap hit got shipped to the New York Jets, and Richie Incognito was brought in to plug the leak following a two-game suspension.
The line has size, athleticism and strength across the board. Finding old form, especially in pass protection, is vital to Carr's success. He has been good when confident in his protection, a point clear during his MVP-caliber 2016 season.
Position coach Tom Cable is under the spotlight here as well, considering his influence selecting Miller and Cable and his track record of underwhelming pass protection numbers. He has long been a good influence in the run game, where the Raiders must find balance operating Jon Gruden's offense.
On-field talent is always most important, and the Raiders have plenty in the middle and on the right. Coaches believe Incognito has some solid games ahead – they'll have to manager with Denzelle Good or Jonathan Cooper in his absence – and there's quality depth at most every position.
So much hinges on Brown playing elite football and Miller's health and development, but there's a real chance to find old form. Signs of that should be clear when training camp starts next week.