Just like the offense, the Raiders greatest position needs also happen to be those with a good crop of free agents still available. The team has signed just one defensive player thus far in cornerback Ron Bartell. They will still need one more corner along with several other defensive positions such as outside linebacker, nose tackle, and inside linebacker
There are still quite a few good players at each of those positions still available. The Raiders have been frugal thus far in free agency but with some good talent still remaining and more money to spend, they could open up their pocketbooks a bit more this week. Here are some of the players who could get a look:
OLB Manny Lawson (CIN)- Started every game his last two seasons in San Francisco. His linebackers coach during those seasons was Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. Lawson is almost the exact size and weight of Wimbley and would fill in for him quite nicely. Lawson's best season came in 2009 under Tarver in which he had 6.5 sacks and 66 tackles from the outside linebacker spot. He started all but one game last season for the Bengals last season, recording 57 combined tackles.
**OLB Wesley Woodyard (DEN)- Though he has had just 15 starts in his four seasons in Denver, he appears to be poised become a starter. Last season he had 90 tackles for Dennis Allen and the Broncos. Though the jury is still out on his pass rushing skills as a 3-4 outside linebacker, he is great in coverage. ** Re-signed with the Broncos
OLB Matt Roth (JAX)- He replaced Wimbley in Cleveland in 2010 and had his best tackle numbers (86) of his career. How weird would it be if he replaced Wimbley again in Oakland? He has played both defensive end and outside linebacker and has had a solid, albeit unspectacular, career with at least three sacks every season but his rookie year.
NT Antonio Garay (SD)- He took a bit of step back last season production wise. But he has done it in the past and it would be worth the chance that he could return to form. And, as usual, it is addition by subtraction from a division rival.
NT Aubrayo Franklin (NO) - He is getting up there in years (32 before season starts) which could make him a bargain as a free agent. Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver knows him from his time as the linebackers coach with the 49ers.
CB Tracy Porter (NO)- Head coach Dennis Allen knows him well. Allen was the DB coach in New Orleans when Porter was drafted by the team. He also watched him intercept Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl three years ago and run it back for a touchdown. Porter will be visiting the Raiders in the next couple days.
CB Jarrett Bush (GB)- Speaking of familiarity, Reggie McKenzie knows Bush quite well. Bush has played well at times for the Packers. In 2009, the Titans tried to sign him away and the Packers matched their offer sheet to keep him. So we know they like him and therefore can assume McKenzie by extension.
CB Jonathan Wilhite (DEN)- One of the moves made under Dennis Allen's year as the Broncos' DC was signing this former Patriot. Wilhite appeared in 14 games for the resurgent Bronco defense, starting two. He had one interception and it was against Aaron Rodgers and Reggie McKenzie's Packers.
ILB Jameel McClain (BAL)- He is young and is just coming into his own, starting all but one game the past two seasons at inside linebacker for the Ravens. He had 83 tackles last season and five passes defended. How confusing would that be having two McClains manning the inside linebacker corps? Or perhaps Jameel could replace Rolando. Switch out one McClain for another.
ILB Jonathan Goff, Chase Blackburn (NYG)- Either of these two could come over from the Giants. It appears the Giants will focus on trying to sign Goff who is younger and had the starting middle linebacker job until he was lost for the season with a torn ACL. It was Blackburn who came in late in the season and saved the Giants to go on their Super Bowl run.
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