The Oakland Raiders have multiple areas that need addressing ASAP, but the holes at linebacker continue to plague the team year in and year out. Let’s take a look at some viable options for the Silver and Black to better address a glaring hole.
Before we move any further, let’s look at who can stick around from the current roster. Tahir Whitehead was one of Oakland’s only veteran linebackers that provided any form of consistency at linebacker. Whitehead started all 16 games while tallying a team-high 126 tackles. In 2019 Whitehead will turn 29 as well as bring a $4.1 million cap hit and a $7.3 million hit in 2020. Despite struggling in pass coverage, Raider Nation should get used to watching Whitehead play.
Marquel Lee anyone?
Marquel Lee is another player I’m counting on to be retained. Even though I expected Lee to serve in a larger role, he carved out a nice spot in the lineup. Lee continues to flash the ability to be a leader and his production was increased upon being moved from MIKE to SAM. There are still two years remaining on Lee’s rookie contract and it will cost the team $700K and $800K in the coming years, an affordable contract to say the least.
Let’s not forget about Morrow and Cabinda…
Nicholas Morrow and Jason Cabinda are guys I expect to see at camp next year. However, their spot on the roster will be determined with the outcome of free agency and the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. While they might not be day-one starters, these are players who are plenty capable of sustaining a spot in a rotational role next season. Joining Morrow and Cabinda will likely be Kyle Wilbur whose 2019 roster bonus has been paid.
Free Agency might also provide an answer…
The Raiders first opportunity to improve the roster is in free agency. It’s hard to pinpoint potential targets before the window opens but there are some intriguing names to keep an eye on. Currently, a member of the Baltimore Ravens, impending free agent C.J. Mosley would be a big-time splash, should Oakland acquire his services. The main question here is whether or not the Ravens let the 26-year-old and four-time Pro Bowler leave without at least placing the franchise tag on him. Some names to keep track of along with Mosley are Dee Ford, Dante Fowler Jr, Derrick Morgan, and Clay Matthews are all possible targets for the Raiders amongst others. Expect head coach Jon Gruden to go after established and experienced players during this period.
The draft is where Oakland can land the most young talent. In my opinion, the 2019 draft class is one of the most talented as far as inside-linebackers are concerned. With top-tier players like Devin White and Mack Wilson entering the draft, Gruden and new general manager, Mike Mayock have their options open.
Former LSU Tiger Devin White is one of the quickest linebackers coming out. As a former high school running back, White knows how to utilize his speed to slow down opposing running backs. White’s skill set would immediately bolster the Raiders struggling run-defense.
Another possible target for Gruden and Co. could be Mack Wilson from Alabama. Wilson would be an excellent fit in coverage. In his time at Bama, Wilson finished with six interceptions over three seasons.
Devin Bush from Michigan is another intriguing prospect. Bush has a stocky frame and plays with a great instinctive ability to break through the line. It’s my assumption that Bush will end up as a second or third round pick due to his recent injury, which isn’t expected to have long-term effects.
Of course, there is the possibility Oakland doesn’t land any of these three but rest assured Raider Nation, there is still plenty of talent available.