The Oakland Raiders may have been hit with disastrous news if rookie Johnathan Abram ends up missing the season. The safety was one the team’s first-round picks and quickly accelerated to the role of starter for week one. He’s known for his aggressive style of play, but unfortunately, that aggression may have cost him his rookie year.
According to Adam Lefkoe, Abram tore his rotator cuff and will be getting surgery this week. If it all checks out, the safety will miss the rest of the season. This would be a huge blow to a young Raider defense that needs his presence in the defensive backfield. Oakland should consider looking at the open market for a replacement and luckily, there are actually still a few good options out there.
Eric Berry tortured the Raiders offense for years while with the Kansas City Chiefs. Berry was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 and has been first-team all-pro on three occasions. Due to injury, Berry didn’t play much in the last two seasons but is still just 30 years old. It’s actually surprising that no team decided to take a chance on him in the offseason. It could very well be because he wants to take some time off and doesn’t feel ready to return.
If that is the case, the Raiders could have what it takes to convince him to come back. First, they are flush with cap space after letting go of Antonio Brown. Secondly, they’d offer him an opportunity to get back at the Chiefs for giving up on him. Berry would be the perfect player to fill in for 2019 while Oakland waits for Abram to return. It’s just up to Berry if he feels like he’s ready to play.
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Picking up George Iloka seems like the most logical move at this juncture. He played the majority of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals and is very familiar with Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. It’s obvious that Guenther likes to bring in players he used to coach. Just ask Vontaze Burfict, Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson. Iloka started a lot of games for Guenther and should be very familiar with his defensive schemes. Berry has more upside than Iloka, but the latter is much more likely to come to Oakland for cheap. Even if he doesn’t start, Iloka would be a solid depth pickup.
Things could come full circle for Mike Mitchell. As the former second-round pick for the Raiders, Mitchell spent four years in the bay before moving on to a few different teams, most notably the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s got a lot of starting experience and could be a solid one-year rental for the silver and black. When Al Davis drafted him, the pick was much maligned and he never really did much with the Raiders. His best years were spent with other teams. Mitchell could come back and show Oakland that he wasn’t a bust. His skill set is comparable to Abram, so it might actually be a pretty good fit.