Despite having a consistent group of offensive linemen over the last couple of seasons, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to shake up the offensive line this offseason. Gone are veterans Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson and should be replaced by Alex Leatherwood, Andre James and Denzelle Good. Good is a proven quantity for the team but Leatherwood is a rookie and James has started one career game.
The Raiders recently had a minicamp and training camp will start next month. It’s possible the team could be getting a bit squeamish about their offensive line. David DeCastro is one of the best guards in the NFL but was recently cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a move to make cap space. He’s dealing with an ankle injury right now, but if he turns out to be OK, he could be an excellent addition for a team this late in the offseason. Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling believes the Raiders are among the best fits for the six-time Pro Bowler:
If the goal is to make sure Leatherwood develops properly on the edge while Derek Carr attempts another 500-plus passes and the team contends, slapping a veteran like DeCastro on the interior would make a ton of sense. It would also let the former Steelers standout potentially contend for a title in the process.
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Raiders Should Seriously Consider Signing DeCastro
Though DeCastro’s ankle is concerning, he’s only 31-years-old and could feasibly continue to be a top offensive lineman for several more years. He also plays right guard, which is still a question mark for the Raiders. It looks like it’s Good’s job to lose but the team could prefer to keep him as a backup considering his versatility and ability to play pretty much every position on the offensive line outside of center.
If the Raiders don’t actually want Good to start at right guard, DeCastro would be the perfect guy to sign. He shouldn’t be too expensive considering his ankle concerns and could be willing to sign a short-term deal. Obviously, the Raiders don’t want to overspend after just cutting costs but if the price is right, the team should strongly consider signing DeCastro.
Raiders Offensive Line Could Make or Break Season
After the Raiders overhauled their offensive line, many began to count them out for the 2021 season. However, things aren’t as bad as many would have you believe. Jackson was a really good right guard but he was overpriced and not that much better than Good. Brown was almost always injured so if Leatherwood can stay healthy, he’s already an upgrade. The hardest guy to replace is Hudson, who is arguably the best center in the NFL. Unless James is way better than anybody expects him to be, the Raiders definitely downgraded at center.
The revamped offensive line could be the most important position group on the team. It’s no secret that Derek Carr does his best work behind a stout offensive line. If he starts to face consistent pressure, he could be in for a down year. The Raiders appear confident in their young group of guys but it’s impossible to know how players like James and Leatherwood will perform until the season starts.