Raiders Sign Former Chiefs, Jets Linebacker

vontaze burfict jon gruden

Getty Oakland Raiders' Vontaze Burfict & Jon Gruden.

The Oakland Raiders officially say goodbye to pro bowl right tackle Trent Brown for the season and welcome a new linebacker. With Brown headed to the injured reserve, the team signed linebacker Ukeme Eligwe to the active roster. Eligwe was a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017 and has bounced around the league over his three seasons.

He only lasted one season in Kansas City before he was waived. He made his way to the New York Giants in 2018 and played in 10 games for them. This year, he’s spent time on the practice squad for the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets. He was one the Jets’ practice squad when the Raiders signed him. He hasn’t played a game yet in 2019. In 24 career games played, Eligwe has accumulated 10 combined tackles and notched one sack.

Before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday, the Raiders released a few veteran defenders and brought on young players to replace them. Eligwe is only 25 years old, so it looks like the team is embracing the youth movement for the last couple of games this season. Heading into the offseason, the Raiders are going to have loads of young players.

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Raiders Linebacker Depth Chart

*denotes starter

SLB: Tahir Whitehead*, Marquel Lee

MLB: Will Compton*, Ukeme Eligwe

WLB: Nicholas Morrow*, Kyle Wilber

The Raiders have had quite a bit of turnover in their linebacking corps throughout the season. Marquel Lee was injured for most the year and Vontaze Burfict has been suspended since Week 4. When the Raiders signed Preston Brown, it was assumed he would have a large role to close out the season, but he was cut before he got to play much.

Will Compton was a mid-season addition but has cemented himself as the team’s starting middle linebacker with Burfict absent. Despite all the turnover, Whitehead and Morrow have been starting most games and that will likely continue through the end of the season. It remains to be seen how much of a role Eligwe will have. He’ll probably have to prove himself on special teams before he gets meaningful defensive snaps.

Who’s Coming to Las Vegas?

If it were the 80s, the Raiders would probably have a solid group of linebackers. However, the NFL has changed quite a bit and with how athletic tight ends are these days, the team needs to add more speed to the position. The Raiders have struggled at linebacker for many years now and just keep putting bandaids on the problem instead of finding a long-term solution.

Tahir Whitehead is under contract for 2020 and he’s a team captain. Though he hasn’t been terrible, he also hasn’t been great. The Raiders have impressive tight end talent in their division and it’s unlikely he’s the one who’s going to stop them. He’ll probably get one more crack at playing in the silver and black in 2020. Will Compton is interesting because he wasn’t playing before the Raiders picked him up, but he’s been elevated to starter. He’ll probably stick with the team through training camp and they’ll decide his fate later. Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow are both homegrown talents. They’ll likely stick around for another year.

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