With minicamps over for the Las Vegas Raiders, the long wait for training camp begins. The team is feeling good about the roster and could surprise a few people in 2021. However, the defense is still a big question mark. The Raiders have fielded some of the worst defenses in the NFL over the last several years.
They hired Gus Bradley to take over a defensive coordinator and gave him some more talent to work with. Until the Raiders can prove that they can play solid defense on the field, nobody is going to buy that they’re actually better. One position group that is a bit concerning is linebacker. Last offseason, Las Vegas brought in Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton to revamp the linebacker corps. That didn’t end up happening as Littleton was arguably the team’s biggest free-agent bust.
With Bradley at the helm, it’s possible that Littleton returns to form. If they don’t believe he can, they could look at a strong option in free agency. ESPN’s Field Yates believes the Raiders should sign former Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright:
While a return to Seattle seems at least plausible, a reunion with new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is also appealing. Wright has system familiarity but would also bring toughness, leadership and production to a defense that needs it all. Coach Jon Gruden has always had an affinity for veterans, and the always-reliable Wright would make this defense better.
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Wright Played Under Bradley
Wright to the Raiders could make a lot of sense. He played under Bradley for two seasons from 2011 to 2012. During that time, he started 27 games under the coach. Wright was often overshadowed by Bobby Wagner, who is a seven-time Pro Bowler and one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
However, Wright is also a solid defender. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and is consistently one of the most dependable linebackers in the NFL. At 31-years-old, he should have a few solid years left, but he might not be much of an upgrade over Littleton, Kwiatkoski or Nicholas Morrow. The Raiders should see what they have in training camp before investing in a player like Wright.
Could Raiders Target Other Former Bradley Players?
Surprisingly, there are some free agents still out there who played Bradley with very impressive resumes. Richard Sherman, Melvin Ingram and Earl Thomas have all made multiple Pro Bowls, yet remain unsigned. The Raiders were linked to Sherman for much of the offseason before the team signed Casey Hayward.
The team’s defensive backfield is already very crowded so it’s unlikely they target Sherman or Thomas unless things are looking grim in training camp. Ingram could be interesting considering the Raiders haven’t had much of a pass rush over the last few years. They signed Yannick Ngakoue in the offseason, which will give them a boost. Adding Ingram could give the team a very good defensive line. If he’s willing to come in on the cheap, Las Vegas should consider it.