One of the top positions of need for the Las Vegas Raiders heading into the offseason is defensive tackle. The team got solid run defense from Bilal Nichols and Andrew Billings but the two combined for just 2.5 sacks. They already have one of the best defensive ends in the NFL in Maxx Crosby but adding interior pressure would help him out quite a bit.
While the Raiders will likely attack the position in the draft and free agency, they’ve already gotten a head start. Las Vegas announced that they have signed defensive tackle Adam Butler to a Reserve/Future contract.
Butler didn’t play in 2022 after getting cut by the Miami Dolphins due to a failed physical before the season. While it’s concerning that he didn’t play this season, he makes a lot of sense for the Raiders. Butler spent four seasons with the New England Patriots after being signed as an undrafted free agent. He was part of the team that won the Super Bowl in 2018. In the past, Butler has proven he can get to the quarterback. He has 17.0 career sacks despite only starting in 13 games, including a career-high 6.0 sacks in 2019. That’s more sacks in a season than any other defensive tackle who was on the roster to end the season.
Butler Is Logical Fit for Raiders
Teams always need defensive tackles who can pass rush so it’s notable that Butler couldn’t get signed this season. The Raiders only signed him to a Reserve/Future contract so there isn’t much risk in signing him. General manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels worked with Butler in New England. They’ll know what he can bring to a defense.
He’s certainly a logical fit. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham runs a similar system to the Patriots and coached there for years. Butler should feel right at home playing the Raiders’ defense. Players who get signed this early in the offseason don’t always stick with the team but Butler is an interesting name to watch.
Raiders Select Ohio State DE in Mock Draft
The Raiders’ defense has needs at every position group. The team could use their high draft picks on any defensive player and it would fill a need. Defensive end is arguably the one position they can avoid making major moves due to Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones eating up a ton of cap space but the latter is getting older and didn’t play well in 2022.
In Dane Bugler’s latest mock draft for The Athletic, he had Las Vegas select Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison. Raiders beat writer for The Athletic Tashan Reed gave his thoughts on the pick:
Harrison would be a swing on traits. He’s a physical marvel at 6-6, 272 pounds with tantalizing length and explosiveness. He can make plays in the run game and the pass game and projects as an impactful three-down player, but he struggled to consistently put that on display in college. He finished his career with 97 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 11 sacks across four seasons of play. He had his best season as a senior with 34 tackles, eight TFL and 3 1/2 sacks, but that still left room to be desired.