Without a doubt I would rather address the LB position via the draft. The rookie wage cap makes rookie draft picks all that much more valuable because your not overpaying for unknown talent. Manti Te'o and Alec Ogletree are both players I would prefer over adding a higher priced free agent. However if the Raiders decide they want to add a free agent here is a list of possibilities.
Deandre Levy, OLB Lions- 2012 stats 81 tackles, 1 int, 1 fr, 0 ff, 0 sacks- Deandre Levy has not performed as well as I thought he would. He is part of the bad boy D in Detroit but he hasn't really made much of a name for himself yet. I think his best days are ahead of him. He is best in the run game and is a very quick linebacker. He could be a really great rotational LB.
Rey Maualuga, MLB Bengals- 2012 stats- 122 tackles, 1 sack, 0 ff, 0 fr, 0 int- Rey has been as consistent as they come at the MLB position. He has been a leader for the good Bengals defense and has over 100 tackles each year. If the Bengals let him hit free agency he will garner plenty of interest. He is likely to be more expensive but if the Raiders went after him I would not be upset.
Brad Jones, ILB/OLB Packers- 2012 stats 77 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 ff, 0 fr, 0 int- Brad Jones is one of the players on this list that is actually most likely to be resigned by his current team. He is versatile enough to play inside or outside and really has developed a great timing move with timing the snap. He is used more in the run game and coverage over rushing the passer but I am most impressed by him when he rushes the passer. He is one of the cheaper options in this list, but he is likely to stay in Green Bay.
Jonathan Casillas, OLB Saints- 2012 stats 30 tackles, 2 ff, 0 sacks, 0 fr, 0 ints- I love Jonathan Casillas ever since his college days in Wisconsin. This kid can fly and has a tenacity to him that would fit great with the Raiders. His stats are not impressive but that could make him affordable. I thought he might switch to safety when he was coming out of WI because of his coverage skills. He could really add some energy to the Raiders LB corps.
Brian Urlacher, MLB Bears- 2012 stats 68 tackles, 2 ff, 2 fr, 1 int, 0 sacks in 12 games- Urlacher is one of the most recognizable names in all of football. He is a first ballot hall of famer and is still able to play the game well. He brings a leadership that is not available from any other LB on this list. He will not be cheap though even at his older age and despite how nice it'd be for the Raiders to add him its not really possible. The Raiders can't afford him and even if they could swing it they shouldn't risk paying somebody that much who might be injury prone now due to his age.
Anthony Spencer, OLB Cowboys- 2012 stats 95 tackles, 11 sacks, 2 ff, 1 fr, 0 int- Anthony Spencer was a total beast this year. I would be shocked if he isn't locked up long term by the Cowboys. If he hit the free agency somebody will pay him a Mack Truck full of money. He would be a huge upgrade in the pass rushing department but its unrealistic to believe the Raiders would have a shot at him. Even if they had the money to pay him if he hits free agency Spencer would have too many options to bother seriously considering Oakland.
Shaun Phillips, OLB Chargers- 2012 stats 50 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 ff, 3 fr, 0 int- Phillips is getting older but is still more than capable of getting to the QB. He would come with the added benefit of weakening a divisional rival. Shaun's age is catching up to him and with the young talent in San Diego it appears likely he will be a free agent. Phillips could be an answer to the Raiders pass rushing woes and I would be very interested in persuing him. He will provide the most bang for your buck out of this list.
Ernie Sims, Cowboys- ILB 2012 stats- 43 tackles, 1 sack, 0 ff, 0 fr, 0 int in 10 games- Ernie averaged over 120 tackles a year his first 3 years in the league but hasn't been that player since. I think if a team showed faith enough to give him a long term home that player could return to the field though. He is smart and a real asset to the run game. I would love to bring him in if he doesn't resign with the Cowboys.
Manny Lawson, OLB Bengals- 2012 stats 39 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 ff, 0 fr, 0 int- Manny Lawson has been coveted by Raiders fans for a long time. His stats really took a hit this year and that makes him likely to be on a new team in 2013. He plays with good leverage and is about as fast as linebackers come. He also is versatile enough to play DE in situations and that could be a nice asset.
Erik Walden, OLB Packers- 46 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 int's, 0 ff, 0 fr- Walden is a ferocious defender. He is a good all around player and makes some intense tackles. He is fast and strong and loves to lay people out. When I watch him I think of Raiders of old with his tenacity and his eagerness to hit people. He had a major character issue with a domestic violence charge a couple years back but hasn't been on any police banners since.