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Oakland Raiders: Exploring FA Linebacker Options

I, and most of us, wanted the Oakland Raiders to bring in a linebacker before Travis Goethel got hurt. Now that he is lost for the season it is an absolute must! There is no way around it. To go into the season with the current linebackers would be a foolish disaster of JaMarcusian proportions.

I believe the Raiders need to sign two linebackers at this point. One to backup at middle linebacker and one to hopefully start on the weakside, or at the very least compete for it. At this point, I would even welcome Ricky Brown back with open arms. But the Raiders don't need to. There are better options than that on the list.

These guys are all still available for a reason. None of them should be viewed as saviors. Unless you count them as saviors for saving the Raiders from an embarrassing disaster if any of the Raiders LBs got hurt. Jump over for the list....

The first portion of the list comes straight from the RyanTheRaider in the comments section. He got the analysis from I added some others at the end with analysis from ESPN

I would take any and all of these guys. But my first choices are Captain Kirk to backup MLB, and Julian Peterson or Pisa Tinoisamoa to push Groves out of the starting lineup. Who do you want?

*After I finished this, I saw samiam2112 posted on this too. So check out his list, too. Between the three of us, I feel confident in saying we got a pretty thorough listing of available LB FAs.

Tully Banta-Cain, DE/OLB, Patriots. Age: 31
Tully Banta-Cain has 15 sacks in the past two years, but at 31, he’s a declining rush linebacker who’ll need a very good pass rusher across from him to be effective going forward. He’s still good in run support.

Pisa Tinoisamoa, OLB, Bears. Age: 30.
Pisa Tinoisamoa missed some time with a knee scope, but otherwise had a pretty solid year as Chicago’s two-down strongside linebacker.

Keith Bulluck, OLB, Giants. Age: 34
Keith Bulluck bounced back from his knee injury and played well for the Giants this season. However, he’s an aging 34-year-old, two-down linebacker at this point in his career.

Danny Clark, OLB, Saints. Age: 34
Danny Clark was picked up in early September after being cut by the Texans. He didn’t see much action early, but ended up starting and playing well for the Saints at strongside linebacker.

Lofa Tatupu, ILB, Seahawks. Age: 28
Lofa Tatupu is no longer the elite inside linebacker he once was. Tatupu is coming off two knee surgeries and was already somewhat of a liability in coverage. Perhaps he can recover and improve his play a bit, but it’s doubtful that he’ll ever be a Pro Bowl-caliber athlete again.

Kirk Morrison, ILB, Jaguars. Age: 29.
Kirk Morrison is a decent middle linebacker who thrives in run support. He’s not terrible in coverage, but could be better in that department.


Akin Ayodele, ILB, Bills. Age: 31.
Akin Ayodele started in the second half of the year for Buffalo, and did a decent job. He can play in both the 4-3 and 3-4.

Dhani Jones: 6'1 - 236 pounds - Age: 33

Jones is a veteran player who wins with technique, toughness and athleticism. He is a versatile player who could be effective at any of the linebacker positions. He isn't the most physical linebacker and can struggle as a take-on player against the physical run games in this division. He has been less effective defending the pass, as he has lost a step of quickness and speed in coverage. Jones continues to impress after 11 years in the league and is a stabilizing force on the Bengals' defense.

Julian Peterson: 6'3 - 240 pounds - Age: 33

Peterson has been a perennial starter since entering the league in 2000. He has been a solid outside linebacker in the Lions' 4-3 defensive scheme but his ability has clearly diminished in recent years. Peterson has average size and strength with great quickness and agility. He has lost a step but still has burst and the ability to close coming off the edge. He understands leverage and proper technique when defending the run but isn't a physical player to set the edge. He is solid in combination zone coverages but can be a liability in pure man schemes.

David Thorton: 6'2 - 230 pounds - Age: 32

Thornton missed the entire 2010 season due to a hip injury although he was activated for the final six games as insurance on a short term basis. He is an undersized linebacker with excellent speed, quickness and agility and is quick to locate the level of the ball and leverage the play. He is much more effective in space as opposed to stepping up and taking on blockers at the point of attack. He likes to play the edge of blockers and will get engulfed and overpowered when trying to squeeze the block down. He will need to prove that he can stay healthy and finish the season in 2011 as his body may be wearing down over the years.

Wesley Woodyard: 6'0 - 229 pounds - Age: 25

Woodyard has provided quality depth, along with the occasional start filling in for injured players. He is an undersized linebacker with excellent speed, agility and body control, but can struggle when trying to step up and take on lead blockers. He has been a core special-teams member who plays with effort and intensity and has the kind of temperament that special teams coaches love. He is still learning how to read blocking schemes, and although he shows a good nose for the ball, he will take the long way around blocks rather than squeezing the play down at times.