Other than re-signing Johnathan Hankins, the Raiders didn’t do much to bolster their defensive line through free agency. They didn’t need to as they’re counting on a couple of players already on the roster.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Oakland selected P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst in the second and fourth round respectively. They went through some rough stretches in their first year, but the Raiders coaching staff expects the two of them to become better and be key contributors in their sophomore campaign. Bringing in veteran help would run counter to that plan.
It’s easy to see why Hurst can improve in 2019. His 77.7 tackling grade led the team last season. He had a great career at Michigan, showed flashes of talent last season and there’s no reason to think he can’t turn said flashes into steady production. Many defensive tackles break out in year two and Hurst has the physical tools to follow their steps.
On the other hand, Hall was a high round pick, but had a steep learning curve to overcome coming from FCS Sam Houston State, and will get some leeway before Oakland gives up on him. Even though he had no sacks in his first year, he played progressively better towards the end of the season and should be able to show Raiders decision makers that he can be a building block for years to come.
Having said that, both sophomore defensive tackles will need reps in order to fulfill their potential and if Oakland signs free agents currently in the market, the second year players and the Raiders finances would be affected.
The Buccaneers recently released Gerald McCoy. He can still play and there’s nothing wrong with him as player. He’s as good as they come, but the main reason he was let go was his non-guaranteed $13 million dollar salary. I highly doubt he would go to Oakland and accept the veterans minimum.
To replace McCoy, the Buccaneers will reportedly sign Ndamukong Suh. A veteran that has always prioritized maximizing his value (there’s nothing wrong with that) and will not sign for anything less than what he wants. It’s doubtful he would have given the Raiders a discount.
Nobody knows if Hall and Hurst will turn into the players the Raiders want, but for that to happen, Oakland has to start trusting them and avoid signing veteran free agents.