One of the more intriguing moves the Las Vegas Raiders made during the season was the decision to pick up former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley off the waiver wire. The 2017 first-round pick soured on the team that drafted him and forced his way out. The Raiders, who were desperate for pass rush help, took a chance on him.
However, McKinley never got a chance to suit up in the silver and black. He hasn’t lived up to his status as a first-round pick but he does have talent. The defensive end will be a free agent this offseason and it appears the Raiders would like to give him a shot. Pro Football Focus predicted the team to sign McKinley to a three year, $28.5 million deal:
McKinley had a long, drawn-out saga with the Falcons finally come to an end with his eventual release from the team. The Cincinnati Bengals claimed him off waivers but released him for a failed physical, so the San Francisco 49ers swooped in to take a chance. The 49ers also failed him for a physical before the Las Vegas Raiders brought him in to get healthy under their care. Perhaps the true goal is to capitalize on McKinley’s value in compensatory pick considerations, but head coach Jon Gruden has expressed that the Raiders want McKinley around for the foreseeable future.
Based on how McKinley’s 2020 went, PFF is probably estimating that he’ll get too much money. What seems more likely is that he gets a one-year “prove-it” deal in Las Vegas. The Oakland, California native could certainly do worse than play for his former hometown team.
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What About Vic Beasley?
The Raiders also decided to bring in Vic Beasley around the same time they signed McKinley. The two men were teammates in Atlanta from 2017 to 2019. Despite not getting a single sack in five games with the Raiders, the team clearly liked him.
They elevated him from the practice squad to a role on the active roster. Beasley is one of the more confusing players in the NFL. In 2016, he led the league in sacks with 15.5. He was then only able to muster five sacks in 2017 and 2018. He bounced back a bit in 2019 and notched eight sacks. His performance in 2020 doesn’t lead to a lot of excitement but it seems like there’s a shot the Raiders give Beasley another chance.
David Irving Is Also a Free Agent
Beasley and McKinley weren’t the only players the Raiders brought in to try and fix the pass rush. Earlier in the season, they signed David Irving to the practice squad. Before leaving football for a year, Irving was an impressive pass rusher for the Dallas Cowboys.
He came to the Raiders due to his familiarity with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. As was the case with Beasley and McKinley, Irving didn’t make an impact in the pass rush. He only played in two games and was banged up most of the season. Out of the three, it seems most likely that Irving is brought back. He’ll be very cheap and Marinelli clearly thinks highly of him. Perhaps giving him a full offseason with the defense could help him be an impact player in 2021. It would almost certainly be worth the risk.