Prior to Jack Del Rio‘s stint with the Raiders, the team struggled on the offensive line. They had a revolving door of draft picks and veterans that never seemed to stick. One of the draft picks they had success with was Jared Veldheer. The former third-rounder was one of the last draft picks made by the late Al Davis.
After a solid nine-year career, Veldheer had a chance to sign with the Dallas Cowboys but decided to retire instead, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, who worked out for the Cowboys last week and was expected to sign with the team, has opted to retire, according to a source. Veldheer played for the Packers last season. With injuries to Tyron Smith (neck), La’el… https://t.co/TvNoFFijbd
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) September 21, 2020
Drafting Veldheer was a classic Al Davis pick. He was absurdly tall at 6’8 and looked like the incredible hulk. He was easily one of the most athletically gifted and imposing offensive linemen to play in recent memory. He’s pictured on the far left below.
— Coach Mark Ehnis (@ThePowerMark) March 26, 2013
Veldheer Had a Solid Run
While Veldheer was mostly known for his size, he actually put together a solid career. He started 48 of 53 games played for the Raiders and got a big contract from the Arizona Cardinals when he first hit free agency.
He started 113 games in his career for the Raiders, Cardinals and Denver Broncos. He also had brief stints with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers last season. There’s no word on why Veldheer decided to retire over joining a talented Cowboys team. He’s dealt with injury issues a number of times throughout so that likely played a factor in the decision. Men as large as Veldheer don’t have the easiest time recovering from knee injuries, which he’s dealt with in the past. He may have made a Pro Bowl, he was one of Al Davis’ better picks towards the end of his life.
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Raiders Still Embracing Size on the OL
Interestingly enough, the Raiders continue to embrace size on the offensive line even with Davis gone. Their two starting tackles are 6’9 and 6’8. Not only that, they’re both really good when healthy.
The Raiders’ decision to embrace size has paid off handsomely. Current offensive line coach Tom Cable was actually the team’s head coach when they drafted Veldheer. His style of coaching certainly embraces athletic giants.
Outside of a horrific season in 2018, the Raiders have fielded an elite offensive line over the last five years or so. The Mike Tice led squad from 2015 to 2017 was really good and the current squad might be even better. The Raiders have definitely embraced the idea that having a strong offensive line is important. They’ve dedicated more cap space to their offensive line than any other team in the NFL, according to Spotrac.
Investing in the offensive line has worked out well as the team has started off 2-0 on the season and the offense playing at a high level. Unfortunately, the group has been marred with injuries. If they can get healthy, quarterback Derek Carr is going to pretty safe all season long while Josh Jacobs will have some massive holes to run through.