The Raiders need serious help at the linebacker position heading into 2020 and the team announced on Thursday that they have signed Quentin Poling. Though he may not come close to solving the team’s linebacker problems, he’ll likely get every chance to make the team.
Poling’s had a previous stint with the Miami Dolphins but actually spent some time with the Raiders during the 2019 season. He spent a very brief time on the active roster but was cut after only playing several special teams plays in one game. Poling was mainly a member of the practice squad. He landed with the Atlanta Falcons towards the end of the season but they decided not to retain him.
As has been the case with most of the Raiders’ signings this season, Poling is quite young. He’s only 25 years old and came into the NFL in 2018.
Potential Free-Agent LB Targets
Poling almost certainly isn’t going to fix the Raiders’ linebacker issue and there isn’t a solution on the current roster. The team needs to make a move and luckily, they’ll have some good options in free agency. Joe Schobert could be on his way out of Cleveland and he’d be a big upgrade in coverage over what the team currently has. He’s been to a Pro Bowl and is only 26 years old.
If they don’t snag Schobert, they could go after Blake Martinez, who was the NFL’s co-tackling leader in 2017. It’s hard to imagine the Green Bay Packers letting him go as they had a very strong defense in 2019. However, the Raiders have lots of money to offer and that could give them the edge. Las Vegas will have a ton of cap space and that’s going to give the team a big edge in free agency.
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Raiders to Draft LB?
The Raiders could also just skip free agency and look to the draft for the linebacker. There are a number of very intriguing prospects this year. Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson is one of the most exciting defensive prospects in the entire draft and the Raiders should be doing cartwheels if he falls to them at 12. Unfortunately, that’s increasingly unlikely as there is a ton of hype around the linebacker.
Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is also a name that’s going to be linked to the Raiders as the draft gets closer. He’s got a ton of potential as a coverage linebacker thanks to elite athletism. The Raiders linebackers have been absolutely terrible in coverage, especially against tight ends, and Murray could help fix that problem.
LSU’s Patrick Queen is another athletic linebacker who should excel in coverage at the NFL level. Murray and Queen should be available at 19, so the Raiders won’t have to invest too heavily in the position and could still snag a top wide receiver at number 12. The team has avoided drafting a linebacker early for years, but they can no longer ignore the team’s biggest flaw. It’s finally time for the Raiders to fix the linebacker position.