Earlier this offseason, Las Vegas Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby was threatening a trade request if the club didn't retain Antonio Pierce as head coach.

Well, the Raiders ended up keeping Pierce, and that made Crosby (and pretty much everyone in Las Vegas) happy.

As if there were any doubt that the Raiders planned on keeping Crosby long term, they have erased it by providing him with a nice raise.

This is a huge move for the Raiders, as it represents an obvious move in attempting to change the franchise culture.

Crosby has been an integral piece for the Raiders since entering the NFL while the team was still in Oakland back in 2019. Since then, he has registered three double-digit sack campaigns and has made three straight trips to the Pro Bowl.

The 26-year-old is coming off of a particularly fantastic 2023 campaign in which he racked up 90 tackles and 14.5 sacks.

Crosby is under contract with Las Vegas through 2026, and if the organization continues to show him its commitment to improvement, he may end up sticking around much longer than that.

Will Maxx Crosby and the Raiders contend in 2024?

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) smiles after the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Crosby and the Raiders looked solid in the back half of last season, going 5-4 after Pierce took over for Josh McDaniels as head coach.

It's clear that a change was needed, and the team responded much better to Pierce than it did to McDaniels. However, it was also fairly evident that Las Vegas still lacked the overall talent to seriously contend for anything.

Yes, the Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas, which was their crowning achievement of 2023. But does anyone actually believe that Las Vegas would have beaten the Chiefs had that been a playoff game?

There is a reason why the Raiders' over-under has been set to 6.5 for 2024: because they aren't very good.

Las Vegas did sign star defensive lineman Christian Wilkins in free agency, but outside of that, the Raiders didn't really do all that much to better the team this offseason. They actually lost running back Josh Jacobs, and they didn't add any significant offensive pieces other than tight end Brock Bowers in the NFL Draft (a pick that was widely criticized).

The Raiders still don't have a clear answer at quarterback. Is it really Aidan O'Connell? Or did they miss the boat not trying harder to trade up for a signal-caller in the draft last month?

Plus, outside of Davante Adams, Las Vegas does not have any elite talent on the offensive side of the ball whatsoever. Sure, Bowers could turn into a superstar, but he is still an unproven rookie, and let's remember that the Raiders also took tight end Michael Mayer in the second round of the draft last year.

Maybe Crosby and the defense—which definitely looked worlds better under Pierce's direction—will be fierce enough to keep Las Vegas in games regardless of what the offense does. It also helps that, outside of the Chiefs, the AFC West isn't very good. The Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos could both easily be worse than the Raiders next season, so Las Vegas may be able to beef up its record with wins against poor divisional opponents.

But overall, it's hard to envision the Raiders truly contending in 2024, especially with the AFC as crowded as it is.