The Las Vegas Raiders‘ pass rush has been wildly disappointing this season. The team is last in the NFL with just 13 sacks in 10 games. Chandler Jones deserves much of the blame as the team gave him $51 million to give them 0.5 sacks this season.
However, the Raiders aren’t getting any pass rush from their defensive tackles. Bilal Nichols was handed a two-year contract worth $8.6 million in the offseason. The hope was that he’d provide the pass rush the team needed from the interior. That hasn’t been the case as he has no sacks on the season and is Pro Football Focus‘ 78th-ranked defensive tackle this season. Las Vegas needs to address their interior pass rush this offseason and that could require them to offload Nichols’ contract.
Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders “must” cut the veteran defensive lineman:
In Las Vegas, he was supposed to play the same role flanked by Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Instead, he has no sacks and just eight total pressures on the season.
Those numbers don’t justify the $6.7 million cap figure he’s supposed to earn next season. Instead, the Raiders can cut the Delaware product and save $3 million against the cap.
Not only will it create more cap space to reshape the defense, but it will also offer players such as Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler more reps.
Raiders Need an Interior Pass Rush
Over recent years, the Raiders have tried to find an interior pass rusher who could make an impact. Players like Maliek Collins failed to do much of anything. Nichols has proven he can rush the passer in the past but the Raiders can’t rely on him next season.
The team absolutely needs to add a pass rushing defensive tackle in the offseason. Georgia’s Jalen Carter is the prize of the draft. If the Raiders end up with a top-five pick, there’s a good chance he’ll be the player they target. There are also good options in free agency like Daron Payne and Fletcher Cox. Regardless of what happens, the team needs to add an instant impact defensive tackle.
Maxx Crosby Praises Defense for Broncos Win
The Raiders’ defense has struggled mightily this year but just had their best performance of the season against the Denver Broncos. They held the AFC West rival to just 16 points, which was a season-low allowed. Maxx Crosby led the way with 2.0 sacks and a blocked punt. He was impressed with what he saw from the defense against the Broncos.
“It’s the little things in football. The tiny little details between winning and losing,” Crosby said Sunday. “I feel like that’s something we’ve been missing, just our energy. Going out there and playing for each other. Playing with passion. It’s something like that that requires no talent that makes the difference between winning and losing. Everybody’s talented in this league. Everybody’s good. Everybody knows football, everybody knows how to play football. There’s just little details that separate teams.
“I feel like we just had juice today and we’ve got to keep doing that.”
The Raiders’ defense needs to build off Sunday’s win and try to turn the season around.