This offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders did a solid job of bringing in defensive talent by way of free agency and the NFL draft. As a result, the team has more depth than in previous years. However, injuries are quickly piling up, should they go all in for free agent K.J. Wright?
The linebacker corps as a whole has some solid pieces, however, the injuries have taken a toll. The afflicted players such as Nick Kwiatkoski, Nicholas Morrow, and Javin White were expected to contribute in their own way. Kwiatkoski is considered by many as the defensive leader while Morrow was impressing this offseason, possibly en route to a big season. The most serious of these injuries occurred on Saturday, when White had to be carted off the field against the Los Angeles Rams.
As a whole, there’s still talent within the unit. Most notably is Cory Littleton, whom many expect to bounce back under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Unfortunately, after Littleton, linebacker depth gets extremely thin. As a result, you can see why the case for Wright makes sense.
Wright checks all the boxes for the Raiders
Wright played for Bradley and arguably had his best seasons under him. Recently, Wright was ranked 67th on the NFL’s Top 100 list. In 10 years, Wright has only missed accumulating 80-plus tackles twice, one of those seasons being shortened by injuries. If the Raiders acquire him, they’ll know what they’re getting; a natural fit in Bradley’s and a veteran leader.
As is usually the case for the Raiders, the biggest roadblock in signing Wright will be the money. The Silver and Black currently have about $2.9 million in cap space, per Over The Cap. A player of Wright’s caliber will surely command more than that. We’ve all seen that when a team truly wants a player, they’ll make it happen.
So what can the Raiders do in this situation? One plausible scenario is parting ways with long-time running back, Jalen Richard, he’d clear up about $3.5 million if that were the case. After Kenyan Drake’s signing, Richard became expendable this offseason. You also have a player such as Trey Ragas who could take Richard’s spot and he’d cost a fraction of what ‘30‘ costs.
Once everyone’s healthy, the Raiders will have an improved and talented linebacker corps. Nevertheless, the chance to add one of best doesn’t come along too often. The Raiders have an opportunity to add someone who instantly improves the position for them.
Yes, his numbers are impressive with 941 career tackles, 13.5 sacks, and six interceptions. More importantly, Wright is a Super Bowl champion and knows how to make things happen on the field. Realistically, if they pick up Wright, they’ll have an instant Week 1 starter. With so much pressure on Jon Gruden to at least deliver a postseason berth, maybe the coach needs to go all in on Wright.
*Top Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports