The Las Vegas Raiders linebacker corps has major questions. As of right now, Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane are two of the most likely starters. Outside of them, it’s anybody’s guess who might be taking the third-most snaps.
The Raiders need a linebacker who can do well in coverage but they aren’t likely to find one at this point in free agency. However, there are some options that could be available in a trade. The Arizona Cardinals decided to decline Isaiah Simmons‘ fifth-year option this offseason, which means he can hit free agency after the season.
The Cardinals are in rebuild mode and Simmons doesn’t appear to be part of their long-term plans. He hasn’t been nearly as good as many expected he would be coming out of Clemson but is only 24 and there is still potential there that can be unlocked. If Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham thinks that he can get the best out of the linebacker, the team should consider making a call. Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton pitched a trade that would send starting center Andre James to Arizona for Simmons.
“The Cardinals are gonna say, ‘We’re not shopping him, we’re not looking to move him,’ but if you offer them something decent, I think they’ll think about it,” Moton said.
Fair Trade for Raiders?
When the Raiders drafted Dylan Parham last season, it looked like they were grooming him to take over at center. However, Andre James must have impressed the coaching staff because signs are pointing toward him starting once again in 2023. Parham will likely be the starting center eventually but the Raiders might wait to make that transition.
That’s unless they were able to get an offer they couldn’t refuse. The Cardinals do need a starting center after the retirement of Rodney Hudson. Simmons is a former top-10 draft pick so giving him up for a former undrafted free agent might not be the best return for Arizona but they would be able to fill a need. Getting something for Simmons is better than letting him walk for nothing next year. The Raiders would likely love to make this deal. They need another linebacker and they already have their future starting center waiting in the wings.
Simmons Is a Freak Athlete
A big reason Simmons was a top-10 pick was due to his athleticism. Despite being 6-foot-4 and weighing 238 pounds, he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash coming into the NFL. There aren’t many people in the world who are better athletes. It hasn’t led to overwhelming success on the field quite yet.
Simmons had a solid 2022 season. He had 99 combined tackles and 4.0 sacks last season. Those are good numbers but he hasn’t been the superstar linebacker many expected him to be. The Cardinals have been an inconsistent team that is going through a head coaching change right now. Simmons may be better off with a change of scenery. A creative defensive mind like Graham could get excited about the idea of utilizing his pure athleticism. Even if he doesn’t end up working out in Las Vegas, James likely doesn’t have a long future with the Raiders. The trade Moton pitch would make a lot of sense for the team.