The Oakland Raiders stripped their defense down to the studs this off season and are in the process of rebuilding, starting with the linebackers. Adding to second year player, Miles Burris, the Raiders have signed Kaluka Maiava and Nick Roach already. They have also hosted Dan Connor earlier in the week. Now, the Raiders are reportedly interested in recently released Miami Dolphins linebacker Kevin Burnett.
Given all of the holes on the team that still need to be addressed, it is somewhat surprising that the Raiders would be looking at another linebacker right after signing two of them. The Raiders have signed a defensive tackle and a defensive end, but neither was a very big signing and there are still needs on the defensive line.
Burnett is a solid veteran starter who would be a nice addition to the Raiders. At 30 years old, he is a veteran but is not yet over the hill. In fact, while his biggest season as a pro was in 2010, he had career highs in total tackles the past two seasons.
The way I see it, if the Raider's are interested in Burnett, it means one of two things. Either the Maiava, the less impressive signing, was signed for depth reasons or the Raiders are at least considering a move to a 3-4 defensive front seven. While Burnett would make a better starting option than Maiava in a 3-4 defense, he is considered to be more of a 3-4 linebacker. Plus, Pat Sims, the defensive tackle signed by the Raiders this off season is a big bodied DT who is capable of playing the nose tackle position in a 3-4 defense.
The Raiders have not said anything about moving to a 3-4 defense, but head coach Dennis Allen has said before that he is open to a 3-4 front seven if his personnel fits it. McKenzie may be giving him just that kind of personnel.
The other interesting part of this news is that Burnett is a pretty solid starter. If true, this is promising for Raiders fans who saw mostly back up caliber players being signed the first couple of days. The Raiders have created a lot of cap room and while McKenzie is still unlikely to make any really big signings, hopefully he is willing to sign some solid starters with potential to really upgrade the defense.