Raiders Top Offseason Requirements – The Oakland Raiders biggest offseason needs on Defense and Offense are Interior Pass Rusher and Offensive Tackle. We’ll take a quick look at each position as we gear up for free agency and the draft.
On a separate note, the top vote getter for 2016 Raider Rookie of the Year poll was RB Jalen Richard with 44% of the Vote. SS Karl Joseph was second with 34%.
RAIDERS TOP OFFSEASON REQUIREMENTS
Interior Pass Rusher
This was a high priority going into 2016 and is probably now the top priority for 2017. Free Agent DT Stacy McGee showed promise early in the 2016 season as a run stopper and pass rusher but groin and ankle injuries put him on the sideline for 7 games. He’ll garner attention from other teams due to last year’s fast start but is largely viewed as a player with potential who has not yet proven himself. Therefore McGee will double his $675k salary but a large payout is unlikely. And most likely he stays with the Raiders. Regardless, Oakland needs to look at a Free Agent pickup or use their first pick in the draft if the right DT is available. They absolutely must get better at rushing the passer.
DT Darius Latham had a pretty good season for an undrafted rookie but at this point is best suited as a rotational player. Justin Ellis is a decent backup entering the final year of his rookie contract. Veteran Dan Williams underperformed in 2016 after having a pretty good year in 2015. Of the three, Williams was the only to record a sack in 2016…actually 1/2 a sack.
LT Donald Penn is entering his 12th season and will be 34 years old in April. The Raiders need to groom a replacement on the expectation Penn can give them at most two more years of high level play. This can be done via the draft or acquiring a young player via FA or a trade. If Penn can’t make it two years and the heir apparent is not ready, Oakland would have to sign a top Free Agent. Worst case scenario for Oakland is Penn goes down midseason.
RT must be addressed and that includes resigning Free Agent Menelik Watson. Injuries to both Watson and Austin Howard devastated the position last year but bringing in a FA does not appear to be a viable option in 2017. The talent gap between Watson and Howard and the current crop of Free Agent RTs just isn’t big enough for the Oakland Raiders to make a change. Better to resign Menelik, who’ll come fairly cheap, and draft some insurance in the middle rounds.