Ex-Raiders Starting LB Team Was Interested in Bringing Back Signs Elsewhere

nick kwiatkoski

Getty Nick Kwiatkoski in coverage against Sammy Watkins.

Among the first things that new Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler did upon landing the job was moving on from some overpriced linebackers. Back in 2020, the team signed Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to sizeable contracts in an effort to solve their longstanding problems at linebacker. It quickly became apparent that they weren’t the answer. Littleton didn’t look like the same Pro Bowl-level player he was with the Rams while Kwiatkoski just couldn’t stay healthy consistently.

Both of the linebackers ended up getting cut this offseason in an effort to add salary cap space. Coincidentally, they will now be playing in the NFC South. Littleton previously signed with the Carolina Panthers and now Kwiatkoski has decided to join the Atlanta Falcons, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.

Kwiatkoski will be joining former Raiders teammate Marcus Mariota, who will likely be the starting quarterback for Atlanta this season. The Falcons are more of a rebuilding team right now so Kwiatkoski should get the chance to play a lot of snaps.

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Kwiatkoski Almost Came Back to the Raiders

Prior to Kwiatkoski deciding to sign with the Falcons, the Raiders were showing interest in bringing him back. They brought him in for a visit and he told Mitchell Renz of the Raiders Report that it “went really well.” He also said that he would “love the opportunity to stay in Vegas with the Raiders.”

The team must have not made him an offer the Falcons offered him a better deal. He’ll also likely have more of a role on defense for Atlanta than he’d have with the Raiders. Divine Deablo and Denzel Perryman appear to be the likely starters while Kwiatkoski should be able to compete for a starting spot with the Falcons. The Raiders also just recently sign Kenny Young so there might not be much of a need at linebacker.

Raiders Could Still Look at Ex-Patriots LB

If the Raiders still believe they need another linebacker after the Young signing, there are still good options in free agency. The most logical fit would be former New England Patriots Pro Bowler Dont’a Hightower. He’s familiar with the type of defense that Patrick Graham will run. He’s older at 32-years-old so it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank. At the very least, he’d provide some solid veteran depth and his familiarity with the defense could help the rest of the team learn the system.

If Hightower isn’t available but the Raiders want a linebacker familiar with Grham, they could sign Reggie Ragland. The former second-round pick out of Alabama played under Graham with the New York Giants last season and started nine games. He’d be easy to plug in and play. Options are limited this late in free agency but the Raiders would mostly be signing for depth right now. Perryman made the Pro Bowl last season and Deablo is an ascending young player so Graham should feel happy about his starters.

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