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How Raekwon McMillan trade affects Raiders’ linebacker crew

What will Las Vegas linebacker group look like now?

Miami Dolphins Training Camp
Raekwon McMillan
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With the roster cut-down day looming on Saturday, the Las Vegas Raiders will likely continue to tinker with their roster over the next week.

Of course, last Saturday, they made their biggest move of training camp by trading for Miami linebacker Raekwon McMillan.

McMillan will likely start in the Raiders’ base 4-3 defense along with free-agent additions Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. Those two players will be every-down linebackers.

McMillan, a second-round pick from Ohio State in 2017, is a two-down linebacker. He is a fine run stopper, but struggled in coverage. Yet, the Raiders will play to his strengths. He was on the roster bubble in Miami because he wasn’t a great fit for second-year coach Brian Flores’ defense, but he is a better fit for Paul Guenther’s system.

With McMillan in, the Raiders will have some decisions to make at linebacker in the coming days. McMillan can play special teams, so that may make it easier for the Raiders if they decide to move on from a player like Kyle Wilber who is a special teams standout, but not great a linebacker.

McMillan’s presence likely makes Nicholas Morrow a depth piece or a candidate for release. The Raiders only have about $3.8 million in cap room and Morrow is due to make $3.2 million this year, so if he is let go, it could be money motivated. The Raiders also have veterans Justin Phillips and newly signed Kyle Emanuel competing for a roster spot.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU
Tanner Muse
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Of course, there are rookies Tanner Muse and Javin White to consider as well. While Muse has struggled some, and is still a work in progress, it would be a shock (but not unprecedented) if he is cut as a third-round pick.

White, an undrafted free agent, has impressed during training camp consistently. So, I can see a scenario where both rookies are kept and the sixth and final linebacker spot (most teams keep six linebackers, but the Raiders could keep seven) coming down to Morrow or Wilber.

Any way it slices, the Raiders appear to be in pretty nice shape at this once-problem area.