The first Raiders free agent to be re-signed to the team was a bit of an unexpected one. Nose tackle Justin Ellis won’t hit free agency. The former 4th round pick has been locked up to a 3-year deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
#Raiders DT Justin Ellis has agreed to terms on a 3-year, more than $15M deal, sources say, pending review of the final contract. More $6M guaranteed. A key building block in Oakland stays in place.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2018
Based on the deal itself, you can somewhat see why it got done. On one hand $5 million a season ranks 30th in the NFL among interior defensive linemen, tied with what Raiders former 6th round pick Stacy McGee received from Washington on a 5-year deal. Only with Ellis, a three-year deal doesn’t tie up a lot of money long term should his production last season prove to be a contract year performance. On the other hand, it’s top five among nose tackles.
Ellis is a popular player in the locker room. He took off some weight last offseason which helped bring up his numbers last season to a career high 48 tackles. If he can keep it going or build upon it, he will be worth his new contract.
The Raiders were going to be completely without options at nose tackle and in desperate need of interior defensive line help had Ellis left. This at very least offers them some flexibility depending on how the draft shakes out.