Defensive end Maxx Crosby put together another excellent year for the Las Vegas Raiders and led the team with 12.5 sacks. He’s cemented himself as a top-10 defensive player in the NFL and should be a for a long time. However, he didn’t receive much help along the defensive line in 2022.
Chandler Jones was second on the team with 4.5 sacks and Raiders defensive tackles combined for 3.0 sacks all season. The team needs more players who can push the pocket up the middle. Darius Philon was limited to 11 games in 2021 but had 2.0 sacks and 17 pressures, per Pro Football Focus. The Raiders were looking into bringing him back in 2022 but injury concerns kept them from signing him.
Though he only spent one year with the team, Philon has maintained an interest in Las Vegas. The veteran defensive tackle took to Twitter to ask if he should go back to the Raiders.
Philon only started two games for the Raiders in 2021 and made most of his impact as a rotational interior pass rusher. He wasn’t able to land with a team this season but has proven he can impact a game. The Raiders worked him out prior to last season so it’s easy to see them taking another work in the coming months.
Should Raiders Sign Philon?
Philon became a bit of a fan favorite among Raiders fans due to his tenacious playing style. Fans would be happy to see him back on the squad. He’s 29 and has an injury history so the team might prefer younger options but there’s no doubt he’d be an improvement over what the Raiders had in 2022.
Bilal Nichols, Matthew Butler and Neil Farrell Jr. are the only defensive tackle under contract for next season. None of the three played particularly well this season. Andrew Billings proved to be a good run defender and could come back. Jerry Tillery had some great moments but also some very ugly ones. The Raiders would be wise to revamp their interior defensive line and adding Philon could be a smart move. He’d be affordable.
Should Raiders Consider Trading up for Jalen Carter?
Many of the recent mock drafts have the Raiders selecting a quarterback or offensive lineman with their No. 7 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Those are two major needs but there’s also a path for the team to address those needs before the draft arrives. Finding an elite defensive tackle isn’t as likely. Jalen Carter out of Georgia is arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft.
The defensive tackle has generational potential. Pairing him with Maxx Crosby would give the Raiders one of the most exciting defensive line duos in the NFL. Most of the trade projections have seen the team move up to get a quarterback. However, why not move up to take a player like Carter? The Raiders’ defense has been bad for two decades and they’ve done little to try and fix it. Trading up for a generational defender would be a big step in the right direction. If the Raiders had traded up in 2019 to get Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams instead of settling for Clelin Ferrell, the defense might look completely different right now.