The Raiders’ need for linebackers is obvious as we sit a week from free agency. Any linebackers that will be available will be worth considering.
We looked at reported Raiders’ free-agent target Nick Vigil of Cincinnati (and a former Paul Guenther player) earlier this week. Now, it’s time to consider another linebacker from the AFC North.
UPDATE: The Raiders must have listened to us. He is reportedly visiting the team today, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
The Cleveland Browns cut linebacker Christian Kirksey on Tuesday morning.
FOREVER GRATEFUL! Thank you Cleveland for the amazing years! Thank you to the entire organization, my teammates, the Haslems for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime and most of all thank you to the city of Cleveland for accepting me as their own! Forever Love, Kirkoland Out! pic.twitter.com/vjcA4nMSZL— Christian Kirksey (@Kirko58) March 10, 2020
Immediately, some reporters speculated that Kirksey will become a popular new free agent.
Would expect Christian Kirksey to have plenty of suitors upon his release by the Browns. The LB has played at an elite level and is exemplary in the community— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2020
Because he was cut, Kirksey is free to sign with any team now. The legal tampering period for most free agents starts Monday and they can officially sign on Wednesday.
It would not be a shock if the Raiders quickly start studying Kirksey’s film after his release. The Raiders cut two-year starter Tahir Whitehead on Monday and will need up to three new starting linebackers.
Kirksey, a third-round pick out of Iowa by the Browns in 2014, has produced. He had 138 tackles in 2016 and 148 tackles in 2017, and he won’t turn 28 until August.
Sounds good, right? Sounds like the Raiders could use him, right? Yes and yes.
But there are some red flags as usual with players who are released. The outside linebacker missed nine games in 2018 because of a hamstring injury. He was lost for the season in Week 2 in 2019 with a torn pec.
When the injuries start piling up for veterans, it’s a concern. Plus, the Browns have more than $60 million in projected salary-cap room. While they saved more than $7 million on the cap this year and more than $8 million next year by cutting Kirksey, they could have easily absorbed his cap number. But with a new staff, the Browns are moving away from a player who hasn’t been able to stay healthy recently.
Perhaps the Raiders will consider their need combined with his past production and his strong reputation as a leader and pursue Kirksey.