Starters: Donald Penn
Depth: Austin Howard, Vadal Alexander
Free agent: Menelik Watson
Penn is entering the final year of his second contract with the Raiders. The 34-year-old left tackle returned to the Pro Bowl last season for just the second time in his career and first since 2010. He injured his knee in the season finale and missed the first game of his career in the team’s wild card playoff against the Texans.
As of this moment, there is no set starter on the right side. Austin Howard started much of last season, but was replaced late in the season by Menelik Watson who had won the starting job out of camp, but once again was lost to an injury.
In total, Watson has missed 37 of 64 career games including the entire 2015 season. The former second round pick has never played a full NFL season and has started a total of 17 games in four seasons. He is set to hit free agency and I wouldn’t expect any team to invest in him long term with his injury history.
The injury prone Watson is headed for free agency. On top of that, the team could very well cut ties with Austin Howard rather than pay him $6.4 million this season. He has already made a lot of money as a replacement level player thanks in large part to a well structured contract and Watson’s lack of dependability. This team needs a solution at right tackle right now and may need to start thinking about the heir apparent to Penn at left tackle.