The Raiders were already not in the best situation at middle linebacker. They brought in Nick Roach to be the starter but behind him there wasn't much to speak of. As I mentioned in my Raiders' camp battles series, they didn't have great options behind Roach. Now with the release of Travis Goethel Tuesday, things just got much more precarious.
It is not a newsflash that Goethel has never really shown himself to be a great option as a reserve middle linebacker. Mainly due to the fact that he can't seem to stay healthy. But without him, there is just one other reserve middle linebacker - undrafted free agent Billy Boyko.
Boyko hails from Lehigh University. He was one of 14 priority free agent signings by the Raiders and we currently have really no idea what kind of player he can or will be. But without another addition to the team, not only do they not have enough middle linebackers to fill out a camp roster but Boyko would make the team by default.
Some have mentioned the idea that Miles Burris could move to the middle but we have yet to see that idea become reality. He was the starter at weakside linebacker last season and was expected to back up Sio Moore on the weakside this season.
The obvious answer is to add a middle linebacker to this squad within the next two days. The perfect candidate would be Joe Mays who the Broncos released today.
The five-year veteran middle linebacker signed a 3-year, $12 million contract prior to last season and then lost his starting job after he had a poor performance against the Patriots in week four of the season. Veteran Keith Brooking took over and started the remainder of the season. Two weeks later, while playing on special teams, Mays was lost for the season with a broken leg.
His release saves the Broncos $3.5 million which is way too much to pay a backup. But that doesn't mean he doesn't carry a lot of value; especially to a team in much need of depth at middle linebacker such as the Raiders.
Dennis Allen knows Mays' value. Mays had his best season, starting 12 games in 2011 under Allen when he was the Defensive Coordinator in Denver. The former sixth round pick out of North Dakota State was second on the team with 83 tackles (67 solo) in a resurgent Broncos defense.
The release of Goethel would lead some people to believe Reggie McKenzie has a contingency plan in place. It seems quite unlikely the team would go into camp with the middle linebacker corps as it is. With Mays, Allen gets someone he knows and trusts, and Mays gets revenge on the Broncos for benching him after one bad game and then tearing up the contract he had just signed months before.
If you can think of an option you all like better, let me know in the comment box.