With the deadline to sign restricted free agents passing on Friday, the Las Vegas Raiders have officially locked up all theirs. The team announced on Friday that they have re-signed defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga. The veteran spent most of the 2019 season on the San Fransico 49ers’ practice squad but did get promoted to the active roster for a brief period.
After playing four games for the team, he was placed on waivers and that’s when the Raiders picked him up. He didn’t play any games for the silver and black, but they clearly liked what they saw from him. Valoaga came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and the Raiders are the fourth team he’s been on. The defensive end played college football at UNLV so he’ll feel right at home playing in Las Vegas if he makes the team.
Are Raiders Set at Defensive End?
Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, the Raiders’ biggest need was at defensive end. They addressed the position by taking Clelin Ferrell in the first round and Maxx Crosby in the fourth round. Ferrell was a mixed bag as he only accumulated 4.5 sacks on the season and struggled to become a consistent pass-rushing threat. Crosby, on the other hand, was arguably the steal of the draft. He took the quarterback down 10 times and only got better as the season went on.
This offseason, the Raiders signed defensive end Carl Nassib. The former Tampa Buccaneer isn’t going to light up the stat sheet, but he’ll be good for six sacks a season. Between Nassib, Ferrell and Crosby, Las Vegas appears to be set with their defensive ends. Crosby has proven to have the most star potential and if he continues to get better, he could be the next Jared Allen. If Ferrell can start playing to the level you’d expect from a fourth overall pick, the Raiders could have a really strong duo for the future.
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Ferrell Believes He’s in for a Big 2020
After one lackluster season, it’s easy to write Ferrell off as a bust. However, he still has a ton of room to grow. Not every player comes into the NFL as Reggie White right out of the gate. Hall of Famer Michael Strahan only got 5.5 sacks in his first two seasons combined. Former Raider Khalil Mack only had four sacks in his first season. Now, it’s a stretch to say Ferrell will be as good as either of those guys, but it’s ridiculous to think he won’t improve. He certainly believes he’s going to better this upcoming season.
“I feel like you’re going to see a completely different player [in 2020] and I’m excited,” Ferrell recently said on ESPN’s First Take.
Ferrell is a high-character player, so he’s definitely putting in the work to get to the next level. He was a very productive pass rusher at Clemson and those skills didn’t just disappear. With new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli in town, the Raiders should do a better job of getting the best out of him.