Raiders free agent fits at linebacker
How much of a need linebacker was going to be for the Raiders next season was wholly dependent upon whether Denzel Perryman was re-signed. Well, recent reports say he and the Raiders were unable to come to a deal on his return, which means he is headed for the free agent market.
That means the Raiders either see an upgrade in free agency, or will look to the draft. The draft is far from a sure thing and with a great many other needs, and there may very not be an instant impact linebacker on the board from them.
Their best bet would be to try and lure a free agent in to step in at the position immediately. And there are a few decent options out there to choose from who could do just that.
Jan 22, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) tackles Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) during the first half of an AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Former 16th overall pick. Five NFL seasons. All with more than 100 tackles. Two Pro Bowls. Last season was first time he ever missed more than one game in a season.
He’s also coming off his best season both in terms of missed tackle rate (6.5%) and coverage. Probably why even while missing four games, he still had over 100 tackles (102), seven pass breakups, and an interception. Basically he’s the complete package at middle linebacker. And he’s still just 24.
Dec 4, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) runs past Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long Jr. (51) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Long looks like a player ready to be a full time starter. The former 6th round pick has seen his numbers rise each of his four NFL seasons. Last season was his first as a full time starter and he stepped up as a key piece of a stout Titans defense.
He makes most of his hay in run defense and had 13 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage in 12 starts. The feeling is that his best football is ahead of him.
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 12: T.J. Edwards #57 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after tackling Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Edwards went undrafted in 2019. And ever since then he has done nothing short of blowing his previous season’s numbers out of the water. From 30 tackles to 70 tackles to 130 tackles to 159 tackles. His combined tackles and solo tackles (99) both finished fifth in the league last season.
Despite his ascending numbers, the Eagles only gave him a small one-year deal prior to last season. Seemingly to see if he could keep raising the bar. He raised it. Now he’s earned a long term deal from someone.
Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Matt Breida (31) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke (58) in front of center Nick Gates (65) and safety Julian Blackmon (32) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Another free agent linebacker with over 280 tackles the past two seasons. Okereke is a stout run stopper who can hold his own in coverage as well. Not many linebackers in the NFL have his combination of run stop ability and coverage abilities.
Jan 15, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) fumbles the ball at the goal line while defended by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) during the second half in a wild card game at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
The former third round pick has missed just three games in his career. He’s been the full time starter the past three seasons in Cincinnati. Pro Football Focus gave him their highest coverage grade in the NFL (90.1) with just two missed tackles in coverage and four explosive plays all season.
In his first three seasons, his run stopping abilities were lacking, but he stepped up this season, missing just 5.9% of his tackles.