The position group that the Las Vegas Raiders spent the most time addressing in free agency was the defensive line. The team signed several linemen, including Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and several more. However, they may not be done quite yet.
The Raiders are feeling good about their defensive ends but it remains to be seen if the tackles can generate interior pressure. The team could be starting to question that as they are bringing in a big name. The Raiders announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
McCoy wasn’t recently medically cleared to play again after missing the entire 2020 season with a ruptured quadriceps injury. The Raiders weren’t likely the only team to show interest in the former All-Pro. The Dallas Cowboys had plans for McCoy last year before he got injured. There was talk of him giving them another shot but it looks like he preferred Las Vegas.
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McCoy Could Still Make an Impact
Landing a big fish like McCoy in the middle of training camp is really exciting for the Raiders. Yes, his injury issues are concerning but played in all 16 games in 2019. He also had five sacks that season which would be a big boost to the team’s interior pass rush. The Raiders add good players this offseason but none of them are noted pass rushers on the interior.
Plus, McCoy’s contract demands shouldn’t be too big considering he just missed a whole year. There’s always a chance that he doesn’t impress the Raiders enough and get cut but that seems unlikely considering their current group of defensive tackles. He’s a Pro Bowl-caliber player when healthy and would bring a lot of leadership to a young defense. It’s hard to see any downside with this signing.
Solomon Thomas Could Be Too Small for DT
A reason the Raiders are looking at McCoy right now could have to do with Thomas. The former No. 3 overall draft pick is also coming off an injury and the team could be a little disappointed in him in a way that he can’t control. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, the Raiders believe that Thomas may not be as big for the role they originally wanted him in:
This training camp, (Clelin) Ferrell might have a hard time winning a lot of playing time, let alone a starting role. There are pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby on the outside, and if the Raiders want a stronger run-defense presence, they might go with newcomer Solomon Thomas on one of the ends. (Yes, for all the talk of Thomas playing inside at three-technique, the Raiders are starting to think he may be too small for that role after all.)
Adding McCoy will allow the Raiders to move Thomas outside, which may be better for his size and skill set.