Raiders best linebacker free agent option is off the market

Manny Lawson #99 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes the field for the game

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has been saying that the Raiders' number one priority right now is finding a starting linebacker to replace the departed Kamerion Wimbley. The best option out there is now no longer an option as Manny Lawson has opted to return to the Bengals.

The Raiders were among a handful of teams who had showed interest in Lawson's services. He was the ideal fit for the Raiders for many reasons.

First of all, he has shown a resurgence playing strongside linebacker for the Bengals. Wimbley was the Raiders' starting strong side linebacker so Lawson would be replace him outright.

Second of all, he has experience in the 3-4. The Raiders will be switching to a 3-4 base, 4-3 hybrid scheme on defense. In that defense, Lawson would be an every down linebacker.

Third, he is known for being a run stopper. Stopping the run has been the Raiders bugaboo for many years now. The issue has been isolated to the linebackers.

Lastly, Raiders new defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver worked with him directly for many years as the 49ers outside linebackers coach.

I know it seems like "what's the point in bringing this up now". The point is, if the Raiders didn't make a serious play for Lawson, there is no one out there they would make a serious play for. And that means they will likely be waiting until after the draft before they add a linebacker on the cheap.

McKenzie also said the Raiders focus will be shifting to the draft now and free agency will be on hold for a while. It was a nice thought while it lasted.

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