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Raiders free agent wish list: Defensive interior

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Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

When it comes to interior defensive linemen, the Raiders could use pretty much everything. Run stopping? Certainly. Pass rush? Yes, please. Most immediate, it would seem, would be to add a nose tackle to the mix.

They haven’t ever really had a consistent presence in the middle. The only player who has been there the last few years is Justin Ellis. He has never been much more than a rotational player with marginal productivity. And he looks to be headed for free agency, leaving a significant hole to be filled. There are options that could hit the market which could fit the bill.

Sheldon Richardson

In ‘old school Raider’ terms, Richardson is an ideal fit. Going from Defensive Rookie of the year and Pro Bowler to multiple suspensions and then his sack totals have waned the past couple seasons gives him the look of a classic Raiders restoration project. The former 13th overall pick is still just 27, so he should be in his prime with several good years left. The Seahawks sent a 2nd round pick to the Jets to acquire him last offseason and though his numbers may not show it, he played well for the Seahawks, they would like to bring him back. He led all free agent defensive tackles last season in run tackles (40) and pressures (36).

Dontari Poe

Like Richardson, Poe once stood atop the NFL world as one of the best young defensive tackles in the league. He too was a number one pick and headed to the Pro Bowl in his second and third season with some impressive sack and tackles numbers for a nose tackle. His numbers took a tumble across the board the two seasons after that and when he hit the market last offseason, he opted for a one-year deal in the hopes of bringing his market value back up to earn a long term deal. He played better, so it probably helped some. He’s still a 6-3, 346-pound versatile presence who can play all three downs.

DaQuan Jones

Last season, the 26-year-old was having his best season as a pro before being lost to a biceps tear in week 12. The 6-4, 322-pound former 4th round pick has been the Titans everyday starting interior defensive lineman the past three seasons. He won’t garner nearly the attention on the market as Richardson, Poe, which will make him a far more cost-friendly option for a team looking for a solid starter.

Denico Autry

With the issues the Raiders have had finding a 3-tech DT/DE, they can’t afford to be letting a good one get away. This former undrafted free agent led the league last season with seven passes batted at the line along with a career high 5.0 sacks to go along with 9 QB hits and 20 hurries. The Raiders need to stop messing around and lock in Autry.

Potential cut

Muhammad Wilkerson

Wilkerson is a tremendous talent, as his contract would suggest. But he represents a $20 million cap hit for the Jets. A Pro Bowler in 2015 with 12.0 sacks, he has put up just 8.0 in the two seasons since. He broke his ankle in the 2016 offseason which no doubt tripped him up that year, and late last season he was disciplined with a suspension for being late for two meeting in the final two weeks of the season. Those are just reasons why the Jets could move on from their highest paid player. Even with his production down, he’s still among the league’s best interior defensive linemen. As far as the tardiness, who really knows what that’s about or if a change could fix the problem. If he’s let go, get ready for the sweepstakes to begin.

See all potential 2018 NFL cap casualties