How much linebacker will the Raiders need the next season was entirely dependent on Denzel Perryman being re-signed. Well, recent reports say he and the Raiders couldn’t come to an agreement upon his return, which means he headed to the free agent market.
That means the Raiders either see an upgrade in free agency, or they’ll look to the draft. The draft is far from a sure thing and with so many other needs, there may not be an immediate impact linebacker on the board from them.
They would be best off trying to lure a free agent to jump into that position right away. And there are some decent options to choose from that might do just that.
January 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 the AFC Divisional Round game at Highmark Stadium. Obligatory credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Former 16th pick. Five NFL seasons. All with more than 100 procedures. Two professional balls. Last season was the first time he missed more than one game in a season.
He is also coming off his best season in terms of missed tackles (6.5%) and coverage. That’s probably why, despite missing four games, he still had more than 100 tackles (102), seven pass breakups and an interception. Basically, he is a complete mid laner. And he is still only 24 years old.
December 4, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) tackles Tennessee Titans running back 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 starter. The former sixth overall pick’s numbers have grown in each of his four NFL seasons. Last season was his first as a full-time starter and he stepped up as a key part of the Titans’ stout defense.
Most of his success comes from run defense and has 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: TJ 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: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Edwards went undrafted in 2019. And since then, he’s done nothing but put up numbers from the previous season. From 30 procedures to 70 procedures to 130 procedures to 159 procedures. His combined and solo tackles (99) finished fifth in the league last season.
Despite his growing numbers, the Eagles only gave him a small one-year deal before last season. Seemingly to see if he can continue to raise the bar. He picked it up. Now he has earned a long-term contract with someone.
January 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Matt Breida (31) tackles 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 with more than 280 tackles over the last two seasons. Okereke is a solid run stopper who can also hold his own in coverage. There aren’t many linebackers in the NFL that have his combination of run and stop and cover ability.
January 15, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) fumbles the ball at the goal line while being defended by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) during the second half of a wild card game at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
The former third overall pick has missed just three games in his career. He was a regular starter the last three seasons in Cincinnati. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest coverage grade in the NFL (90.1) with just two missed coverage snaps and four explosive plays all season.
In his first three seasons, his run stopping abilities were poor, but he improved this season, missing just 5.9% of his tackles.