The Las Vegas Raiders are keeping busy on Saturday as they’ve made a couple of transactions. First, they signed running back Theo Riddick and now they’re bringing in a player they should be very familiar with. According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the team is signing former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kyle Emanuel.
As Pelissero mentioned, Emanuel retired after the 2018 season at the age of 27. He started a lot of games for the Chargers and played against the Raiders quite a bit in his four seasons. He has 147 career combined tackles and four sacks. Emanuel comes in and will try to compete for the third linebacker spot behind Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski.
Though Pelissero didn’t mention what other teams were interested in Emanuel, it is interesting that he believes he could win in Las Vegas. The Raiders have one winning season since 2002. It’s a testament to how much good work Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have put it. The team wasn’t always considered a free agent hub but it’s starting to look like good players are flocking to Sin City.
Why Did Emanuel Retire?
It’s not often that a 27-year-old linebacker with starting experience and teams interested in his services retires so young. When he retired, Emanuel did release a statement about his decision.
Though he didn’t blame his injury problems for the retirement decision, he did acknowledge that they did play a factor. Interestingly enough, Emanuel didn’t miss a single game during his last three years with the Chargers. It appears that the nagging injuries got the best of him but it sounds like he’s better now. After a year off, he should be healthy now and could make an impact.
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How Emanuel Fits on the Roster
It was recently reported that the Raiders almost signed veteran linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Based on that fact and the Emanuel signing, it’s clear the team wanted some help at linebacker. Littleton and Kwiatkoski are really good players and will man most of the linebacker duties. However, the third spot has been up in the air.
Originally, it seemed like Marquel Lee would have a shot at being the third guy but he was cut after failing a physical. Nicholas Morrow will still get his chance at earning the spot. He’s been with the team for a while now and Gruden has praised him in the past. That said, he’s also been a part of the last few Raiders linebacker corps that have been really bad.
Morrow will still be the favorite to get the third most reps behind Littleton and Kwiatkoski but there will be opportunity for Emanuel. The Chargers usually have a solid defense so it’s not a small feat that he started a lot of games. The Raiders are pretty thin at linebacker right now so Emanuel has a really good shot to make the regular-season roster.