As I mentioned when putting together the wishlist for at wide receiver, it ran pretty evenly in the fan poss as the Raiders number one need with an 80% desperate need. Again, I agree wholeheartedly. And over the past three years, they have not put near enough emphasis on fixing the position. The only decent defensive end they have had in the past few years was Lamarr Houston and he left as a free agent last offseason.
An attempt was made last offseason to temporarily fill the positions with Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley and it didn't work out too well. Tuck played fairly well and Woodley didn't work out at all.
Here are the players who figure to be the favorites to come to Oakland this offseason:
Last offseason, the first defensive player the Raiders signed was Justin Tuck. Immediately upon signing, Tuck said he was recruiting other free agents to come to the Raiders with him. Hopefully this offseason he has been in the ear of his former Super Bowl teammate, Jason Pierre-Paul recruiting him to team up with him once again in Oakland. The former All Pro pass rusher is just 26 years old. He had a shortened 2013 season after offseason back surgery but a bounce back 2014 campaign (12.5 sacks) should relieve any doubts that his back injury is behind him (so to speak).
Here is what Ed Valentine of Big Blue View had to say about Pierre-Paul
Pierre-Paul is the Giants' No. 1 free-agent priority. He will be 26 this season, in his prime, and players with his skill set as a 4-3 defensive end are simply not easy to find. When he's healthy he plays the run as well as any 4-3 DE in the league, and the Pro Football Focus scores will back that up.
A torn ACL made his first two season a wash. The former first round pick (16th overall) lived up to his potential in year three and has been a consistent pass rusher for the Titans over the past three seasons. Putting up 19 sacks over that time along with seasons of 42, 37, and 34 QB hurries. That's fantastic consistency. He struggles some in run defense but that isn't what the Raiders would want him for anyway. They need pass rush and he provides that.
Here is what Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles had to say about Morgan:
Morgan was drafted as a 4-3 defensive end. That is what he played for his first 4 years in the league before the Titans switched to a 3-4 last season and Morgan switched to an OLB. He was pretty good in both spots. His sack numbers weren't ever great but sites like PFF always loved him for pressures and hurries- those types of things. He also plays the run well as a 4-3 DE.
He made the transition to outside linebacker really easily. Again, he didn't put up great numbers, but his analytic type stats were good.
The Titans would absolutely like to have him back, but he wouldn't be playing his natural position here. I don't know if that is what he wants, but my guess is he does. I think it is likely that he hits the market.
Much like Derrick Morgan, he saw his defensive scheme switch recently from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Also like Morgan, he broke out in his third season to have his best season with 6 starts, 5.5 sacks and 31 QB hurries. Last season, despite starting just one game for the Eagles, he again put up 5.5 sacks appearing in 16 games. He's also pretty good in run defense.
He hasn't started a lot of games in his four seasons in Baltimore, but he has made the most of his time on the field. And he has played all over the place for the Ravens - defensive tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker. He's coming off a career high 7.5 sacks, 40 QB hurries and 4 passes defended from the outside linebacker position. And he's 6-3, 278 pounds. For perspective, Khalil Mack - not a small man by any measure - weighs 25 pounds less. There's a good chance a 3-4 team will find McPhee more valuable, but the Raiders, like many teams these days, also value the kind of versatility McPhee offers.