Raiders Urged to See if Free Agent Pro Bowl DL Would Sign at Discount

akiem hicks

Getty NFL free agent DL Akiem Hicks.

It’s been a banner offseason for the Las Vegas Raiders and there’s more excitement surrounding the team than there has been in years. While new general manager Dave Ziegler has made some great additions like Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, there are still some holes on the roster. The defense could take a leap forward under Patrick Graham but there are reasons to be concerned.

There interior of the defensive line doesn’t have a lot of pass rusher upside. Bilal Nichols and Kyle Peko are the only two true defensive tackles on the roster who even had one sack last season. The Raiders have an elite edge-rushing duo in Jones and Maxx Crosby but having some push in the middle makes getting to the quarterback a lot easier for those two.

Tashan Reed of The Athletic believes that former Chicago Bears Pro Bowler Akiem Hicks is one of the few remaining free agents who could help the Raiders.

“Next, I’d see if Akiem Hicks is willing to take a bargain deal to provide some more pass rush help on the interior defensive line,” Reed wrote.

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Hicks Would Be a Good Fit With Raiders

Hicks is a logical fit in the Raiders’ defense. He has experience playing in a 3-4 base due to his years with the Bears but he can also play in multiple sets. At 32-years-old, Hicks doesn’t have the same pass rush juice he did years ago when he compiled 23.0 sacks in just three seasons between 2016 and 2018. That said, he can still get to the quarterback at a decent rate.

He’s had at least 3.0 sacks in six of the last seven seasons. That’s at least an upgrade over what the Raiders currently have on the roster. Plus, he played with Nichols in Chicago over the last four seasons so there’s familiarity between the two and they know how to play together.

What About Gerald McCoy or Darius Philon?

If the Raiders don’t want to go with an outside addition, there are still some options from last year’s team who remain in free agency. Just recently, the team brought in Darius Philon for a visit. He was a key contributor for the team last year but suffered a torn patellar tendon during the last game of the regular season. He’s likely still recovering so the Raiders will wait and see how his rehab goes before offering him a deal. He was one of former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s guys but Graham must like him to give him a visit.

Gerald McCoy is another Raider from last year who had his season derailed due to injury. He tore his ACL during the first game against the Baltimore Ravens, which ended his 2021 season early. He showed great leadership skills last season and still had some pass-rushing juice. Graham could like the idea of bringing in a veteran leader like McCoy to the defensive line. If he can stay healthy, he has the ability to be a difference-maker.

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