The Las Vegas Raiders headed into this offseason with the clear goal that they wanted to fix their defensive line in free agency. They ended up adding several players through free agency and the draft. Las Vegas was also able to land the top free-agent pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue. There’s no doubt that the Raiders’ defensive line should take a step in the right direction this season.
However, while they added a lot of players, Ngakoue is the only guy who is a for sure difference-maker. Jake Rill of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders need to go after free agent pass rusher Justin Houston:
Las Vegas’ pass rush could take another step forward if it added Houston to its rotation on the edges. Even if Houston isn’t a starter, he could make a big impact when he gets on the field.
Of course, Houston could still receive other offers that may put him in a better situation. But if that doesn’t happen, the Raiders should try to find a way to sign him, as their pass rush needs to perform better than it did in 2020.
Despite being 32-years-old, Houston is still a productive pass rusher. He’s notched 19 sacks over the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. The fact that he’s still a free agent is surprising considering his production.
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Raiders Don’t Have Room for Houston
Houston would be a really great addition for the Raiders. He’s a proven leader and pass rusher, which is what the team still needs. Having him and Ngakoue on both ends of the defensive line on passing down would be seriously dangerous. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen.
With the signing of Casey Hayward, the Raiders have no more cap space left. Houston isn’t going to take a minimum deal. Also, the team has already invested heavily in the defensive line. Houston would be an upgrade over most players currently on the squad but there’s a reason the Raiders haven’t targeted him yet. The team is embracing youth and while Houston hasn’t shown much decline, he’s not the same player he was when he led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014. Simply put, he’s not going to sign with the Raiders anytime soon.
Are There Other Players Raiders Should Look At?
The Raiders have certainly made strides this offseason and have filled some major needs. However, the team didn’t make the playoffs last year so there is still room for improvement all over the roster. If money was infinite, the team should strongly consider signing Richard Sherman. Unfortunately, he’s nearing the end of his career and wants to get paid. The signing of Hayward closed the door on that possibility.
The biggest concern the Raiders should have heading into the season is that they still don’t have an interior pass rusher. Johnathan Hankins is a solid player but he doesn’t get after the quarterback. Geno Atkins is 33-years-old now but he’s one of the great pass-rushing defensive tackles of the last decade. He would likely come cheap so it could be worth giving him a year to see if he still has some juice. Kawann Short would be another interesting player to take a look at.