Recently retired linebacker Zach Orr has reached out to eight teams so far in a bid to resume his playing career according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
It would seem logical the linebacker-needy Oakland Raiders would be one of the teams to look into the former Baltimore Raven, who came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Although the Raiders have yet to reach out, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, free agency is unpredictable and anything is possible in the coming days.
After being primarily used on special teams during his first two years in the league, Orr carved out a more significant role last season, racking up an impressive 132 combined tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions en route to being named an All-Pro.
The linebacker, who played college ball at North Texas, announced his early retirement in January due to a congenital spinal condition.
The Ravens didn’t extend him a restricted free agent tender as they believed there was no chance of him resuming play, so it’s hard to envision them welcoming him back to the fold.
“When I first found out the news it was definitely shocking,” said Orr on Good Morning Football Wednesday. “But just being around and doing other things, a lot of former players were telling me, ‘You might want to check it out. Because a lot of crazy things happen.’”
After following that advice and getting second and third opinions, Orr was told that he wasn’t at greater risk than anybody else playing the game, which is when he decided to resume his playing career.
Since he will still be viewed as an injury risk across the league, he will likely be a bargain for whichever team decides to sign him.
The Raiders are still searching for an identity at ILB after they didn’t re-sign Perry Riley Jr., and Malcolm Smith left in free agency, which could make them an ideal landing spot for Orr. Although they have high hopes for Jelani Jenkins—who they signed earlier this offseason—they still don’t have anyone as talented as Orr amongst their interior linebacker group.
If he were to join the team, he would likely be thrust into a starting role on a young defense that appeared to be turning the corner over the second half of 2016.
It goes without saying, however, that the Raiders’ training staff would have to be 100% convinced that Orr would be safe to resume his career, as they would be contradicting the advice of a highly respected medical staff in Baltimore.
More news to come over the following days, stay tuned.