EDGE Arik Armstead Could Take Raiders Pass Rush to Next Level

The Las Vegas Raiders should build on one of their strengths: Their pass rush. Under new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, they could have an elite unit if they added free agent Arik Armstead.

The Raiders have an up-and-coming defensive line unit that features some promising young players. Partaking that group are Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, Maurice Hurst Jr., and P.J. Hall. However, if the 49ers aren’t able to bring back Armstead, the Raiders should back up the Brinks truck.

Related: Which route should Raiders take in regards to linebacker?

I’m not expecting Raiders general manager Mike Mayock to drop big money on a position like linebacker this free agency and the only defensive free agent right that’s currently connected to the Raiders is CB Byron Jones, who would have an expensive price tag as well. Yet, as anyone knowledgeable with football knows, getting to the quarterback cures a lot of defensive woes.

Looking Back at Armstead’s 2019 performance

If you plug Armstead in the Raiders defensive line, it would almost certainly improve. Last year alone, he had ten sacks, two forced fumbles, and 54 tackles to go along with 18 quarterback hits in the regular season. What Armstead would bring in regards to pressuring the quarterback would be invaluable if you take a closer look. He had 35 QB pressures on his own. By comparison, Crosby had 31; imagine these two on opposite ends.

Some will say signing Armstead would hinder Ferrell’s development, but I disagree. Under Marinelli, all of these players’ potential would be maximized, even Arden Key could benefit. Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus both recently wrote on Armstead’s prospects this free agency:

“Former first-round pick Arik Armstead has been a solid enough player for the 49ers since being drafted, but this season he took a step towards being something else entirely. Armstead has played the most snaps of his career this season and has been dramatically more productive as a pass-rusher, almost doubling his previous career-high in total pressures. Armstead has elite physical tools and impressive versatility, but a big leap forward in production in a contract year will always set alarm bells ringing. Armstead’s potential is significant…”

The issue with Armstead as with any free agent the Raiders consider will be money as he will not come cheap. His previous contract with San Francisco had a signing bonus of a little over $5.4 million dollars, per Spotrac. What Armstead will get this offseason will be significantly higher, Spotrac predicts he will command an annual salary of roughly $15.6 million dollars. Not a bargain by any stretch but think about what AFC West quarterbacks will feel knowing they’d have to face Crosby, Armstead, and Ferrell twice a year.

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