Like many positions on the Raiders last season, linebacker was in a constant state of flux. Tahir Whitehead was the big free agent acquisition and saw the field for nearly every defensive snap, but not at the same position, eventually playing primarily on the outside. The middle linebacker spot as well as the other outside linebacker position were unsettled with no one standing out.
There are several very good options set to hit the market who could be the answer at one or both of the open linebacker positions.
C.J. Mosley, Ravens
Remember when he got more rookie of the year votes than Khalil Mack? He was Mike Mayock’s top inside linebacker prospect in 2014. He earned that distinction as a pro, making four Pro Bowls in five seasons while averaging 120 tackles and 7 passes defended per season. He’d fill the Raiders need at middle linebacker nicely.
Anthony Barr, Vikings
The former 9th overall pick was Mike Mayock’s second ranked outside linebacker in his 2014 position ranks, just behind Mack. His 22 career passes defended while averaging 68 tackles per season has had him in four straight Pro Bowls as a 4-3 outside linebacker. It would be the LA native’s return to California too.
K.J. Wright, Seahawks
Wright would make a nice contingency plan in case they can’t get their man in the draft. Wright will turn 30 in July, which means he has at least a couple good seasons left in him. Just like Moseley, Wright has averaged 120 tackles the past four seasons.
Preston Brown, Bengals
Mayock’s third ranked linebacker in 2014, Brown had massive production over his first four seasons in Buffalo, putting up 126 tackles per season, including 135 and 144 tackles in his last two seasons there in 2016-17. He signed a one-year deal in Cincinnati, hoping to earn a long term deal, but having his season upended by injuries and end after just 7 games.
Avery Williamson, Jets
The former 5th round pick has missed just one game in his career, starting 75 games in five seasons with the Titans and Jets. Over the past four seasons, he has averaged 105 tackles, 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss per season.
Vincent Rey, Bengals
Guenther has spoken highly of his former undrafted linebacker. He started 44 games with the Bengals from 2014 to 2017 while Guenther was Defensive Coordinator in Cincinnati. At the age of 31, he wouldn’t be the answer, but he’d be cheap and he’d come with an extensive knowledge of Guenther’s defensive scheme.