Raiders Blog Divine Deablo Jaylon Smith

Linebacker options running thin for Raiders after Pro Bowl LB signs elsewhere

Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders hosted a visit with former Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith. A deal didn’t get done, and one week later, Smith agreed to terms with the New Orleans Saints. Another player at the Raiders’ most-needed position is officially off the market.

Currently, Las Vegas’ projected starters at linebacker, via their first depth chart of the season, are Divine Deablo, Robert Spillane, and Luke Masterson. Combined, the trio of LBs have 36 starts under their belt – an average of 12 starts per player.

Fans and analysts alike are low on the Raiders’ talent at the position as is. Add in the overwhelming lack of experience, and it almost seems as if the Silver and Black need to add a veteran. The problem is, what was once a smooth-flowing free agency class with plentiful starting-caliber linebackers has long since dried up.

There are still a handful of options, however.

Las Vegas Raiders pass on Jaylon Smith – Now what?

After a visit in Las Vegas that didn’t end with a signing, Jaylon Smith headed to New Orleans for a visit with the Saints and struck a deal. Why didn’t the two sides work out a deal in Sin City, though? Well, that depends on who you ask. According to some, it’s because the visit felt “more like due diligence.” Some people have other theories, though.

Either way, it’s back to the drawing board for the Raiders and their general manager Dave Ziegler.

There are two names in particular that stand out as fits, should the team wish to add another player to the linebacker room: Anthony Barr, and Kyle Van Noy.

Barr worked out for the Saints on Tuesday, and although the workout was described as good, the veteran noted he wants to explore all his options. New Orleans took the linebacker who worked out for the Raiders; now, Ziegler has the chance to even the score with the team who signed now-former Raider Derek Carr.

With the Cowboys in 2022, the nine-year linebacker started 10 contests. Barr recorded 58 tackles including one sack and two take-downs behind the line of scrimmage. He was also credited for two fumble recoveries.

A versatile linebacker who fits Patrick Graham’s scheme and knows McDaniels, Ziegler

Kyle Van Noy, the second option, makes much more sense for the Raiders. In fact, Van Noy makes so much sense, that it’s actually surprising he hasn’t been welcomed to Las Vegas yet.

Another nine-year veteran, Van Noy totaled 13 starts last season. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham preaches versatility, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a linebacker league-wide with more overall experience than the former Patriot who’s plenty familiar with Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler.

Van Noy has played in both 3-4s and 4-3s, as an inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and solo middle linebacker. In each of his last four campaigns, the 32-year-old has tallied at least five sacks.

Since 2018, Van Noy has 24 pass deflections, two interceptions, nine forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, 26 sacks, and three defensive touchdowns. You can’t spell do-it-all linebacker without Kyle Van Noy.. well, you can, but.. never mind. All that matters is, this guy can do everything; in any defensive front, at any linebacker position.

Oh, and the aforementioned familiarity with the Raiders head coach and general manager.

*Top Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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