The offseason is going to pick up for the Las Vegas Raiders as the NFL Combine gets underway. Free agency isn’t far away and the team figures to be big players. In the meantime, new general manager Dave Ziegler is starting to make roster moves.
The Raiders announced that they’ve signed veteran defensive tackle Andrew Billings. To make room, the team had to waive offensive guard Jeremiah Poutasi.
Billings came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2016 but missed his entire rookie year due to injury. He started 37 games for them over four seasons before joining the Cleveland Browns in 2020. He decided to sit out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and played six games with the team before getting cut. He spent time on the practice squads for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. The last couple of years have been rocky for Billings but he’s a solid veteran who could possibly fill a need for the Raiders.
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Raiders Have Openings at DT
Most of the Raiders’ top defensive tackles were in contract years last season. Johnathan Hankins, Solomon Thomas, Darius Philon and Quinton Jefferson are all headed towards free agency. Now that the team has a new defensive coordinator in Patrick Graham, it’s possible that they choose not to bring any of them back. If that happens, the Raiders will have a major need at defensive tackle.
Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue form a great defensive end duo so the team needs to focus on solidifying the interior. Billings could have a legit chance to earn a roster spot. He started a lot of games on a solid Bengals defense. 2018 was his best season as he had 2.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits. That’s solid production for a defensive tackle. Regardless, the Raiders will need to take a strong look at the position this offseason.
Raiders Should Upgrade Defensive Interior
Jefferson, Hankins, Philon and Thomas were all solid for the Raiders last season but the team can do better. Jefferson was the highest-graded defensive tackle for the team last season but was still rated 77th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. That’s simply not good enough.
The Raiders often struggled on run defense and finished 16th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. There’s a lot of room for improvement. The team would be wise to look at upgrades. Gerald McCoy was a member of the team last season but suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. He might be worth taking another chance on if he gets healthy. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and a great leader. Ndamukong Suh is 35 now but can still cause headaches for offenses. Perhaps the Raiders can get him on a reasonable one-year deal. The team could also look to the draft to address the need. It’s not the best free agent class for tackles so the Raiders could sign some veterans on one-year deals and then use a draft pick to address the position.