The first wave of free agency is over and the Raiders have been very aggressive adding four impact players to the roster, including three on the offensive side of the ball. The Raiders should be feeling an increased sense of urgency especially after Markus Golden — the one pass rusher in whom they had reported interest — chose to sign with the Giants instead.
The Raiders were one of four teams supposedly interest in Golden and it seemed like a natural fit with Brenston Buckner the new defensive line coach in Oakland. Golden went with his former Defensive Coordinator who was in New York.
Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner is the lone addition to the defense and many including second year defensive end Arden Key are wondering when will the lack of pass rush be addressed.
Don’t forget about the defense now!— OptimusKey_ (@ardenkey) March 11, 2019
The Raiders do have four picks in the top 35 of the draft so they will be investing one and possible even two of those picks in an edge rusher. That being said, it would still be a wise choice to lock up one of the remaining free agent edge players. And there aren’t many.
These are the players left who Raiders should be going after if they hope to not come away from this free agency period with an upgraded pass rush.
Justin Houston, 30
The obvious name that tops the list is former Kansas City Chief, Justin Houston. At one time Houston was the games most feared pass rusher. Houston is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 9.0 sacks but it wasn’t enough for the Chiefs who released him.
If the Raiders were to sign Houston he would bring a legitimate threat from the outside who would demand the attention of opposing offenses. The Raiders could really stick it to the Chiefs by keeping him in division and forcing them to face their old teammate twice a year.
Houston’s familiarity with the division is also a reason why it makes sense for the Raiders. At the moment the Raiders have not been linked to Houston.
Ezekiel Ansah, 29
If and when Ansah is healthy you can chalk him up for double digit sacks, however that could be a big if as he is coming off major shoulder surgery. In the past three seasons he has missed 14 games but did manage 18 sacks in that time.
The best of Ansah’s career is behind him but if the price is right the Raiders should entertain the idea of brining him in and pairing him with Arden Key and another young pass rusher through the draft
Shaquil Barrett, 26
If you are looking for a younger, cheaper option with upside then Shaq Barrett is your man. Sitting behind Von Miller and Demarcus Ware early in his career Barrett was nothing more than a rotational player. Now with Bradley Chubb in the mix, Barrett was limited to 275 snaps in 2018.
According to Pro football focus he graded out with a pass rush score of 72.5 last season. Maybe all Barrett needs is an opportunity to be an every down player?
It’s possible the Raiders are planning to make a run at Justin Houston signaled by the release of Jordy Nelson and AJ McCarron Thursday evening. The moves free up roughly $8.5 million in cap space.