Raiders Re-Sign 4th-Leading Pass Rusher

jon gruden

Getty Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Las Vegas Raiders are set to embark on what should be a very busy offseason. The team is close to playoff contention but still needs a lot of work. Before they can start thinking about free agency, they need to decide which players from the 2020 squad that they want to bring back.

It appears that 25-year-old defensive end Kendal Vickers has impressed the Raiders enough to warrant another shot. The team announced on Tuesday that they’re bringing him back on a one-year deal.

Vickers played in 15 games for Las Vegas last season and started in two. He was tied for fourth on the team in sacks with two. He wasn’t a standout most weeks but he’s a versatile player and while two sacks in 15 games aren’t overly impressive, there weren’t many other Raiders pass rushers who had better seasons. Vickers came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also spent some time on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad. 2020 was the first season that he actually saw playing time in the regular season.

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Expect More Moves Along the Defense Line

The re-signing of Vickers shouldn’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things. He’s likely coming back on a tiny deal that won’t hurt the team’s cap space. The Raiders’ defensive line was a massive problem last season and they need to figure out how to fix it.

Maxx Crosby led the team in sacks and he only had seven. As we saw in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ recent Super Bowl win, a great way to beat the Kansas City Chiefs is to consistently pressure Patrick Mahomes. The Raiders were able to accomplish that against the Chiefs early in the season and ended up winning. However, in the second matchup, they couldn’t get after Mahomes and lost. The key to having a great defense is to be able to get after the quarterback. The Raiders have a lot of work to do in that department if they hope to get back to a Super Bowl in the foreseeable future.

Will Raiders Re-Sign Maliek Collins or Johnathan Hankins?

Vickers is the first of a few free agents the Raiders have on the defensive line. The team’s two starting defensive tackles for most of the season are no longer under contract. Johnathan Hankins has been with the Raiders for a few years now and Jon Gruden is a big fan. He’s a very good run defender but only has 2.5 sacks the last three seasons. He’s a team captain and the Raiders like his leadership. It’s very possible that he gets another contract with the team.

Maliek Collins, on the other hand, is a wild card. The Raiders were super high on him heading into the season. Gruden even called him the key to the defense. He finished the season with zero sacks and without a single tackle for loss. Las Vegas could want to bring him back on a cheap deal but it might just be better to move on.

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