clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Raiders free agency: 5 good value defensive tackle options

Bargain hunting and getting economical to address Vegas’ DT issue

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ndamukong Suh
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before Free Agency even started, the Las Vegas Raiders signed a new defensive tackle as the team announced on Monday that Andrew Billings will be joining the Silver and Black.

The fact the Raiders acted so swiftly in the defensive tackle market this offseason shows how massive their need is at the position. Even after the addition of Billings, Las Vegas only has two interior defenders under contract and the other is P.J. Johnson, who has never made an active roster.

However, despite the glaring need, the Raiders aren’t going to be able to spend big and throw money at their problem. With just under $20 million in cap space heading into free agency per both Spotrac and OverTheCap, they’re going to have to be economical.

So, it’s time to pinch some pennies and take a look at the free-agent market to find some quality defensive tackles that won’t break the bank.

Sheldon Richardson

Las Vegas Raiders v Cleveland Browns
Sheldon Richardson
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

PFF Projected Contract: 1 year, $3 million

Age: 31.2

Pros: Richardson has a long history of being a quality defensive tackle, both as a run defender and pass rusher. He’s racked up 112 defensive stops over the last four years and has earned a PFF run-defense grade below 67 just twice in nine career seasons. He’s also averaged 41 pressures a year with two different teams over the last four years and has 14.5 sacks during that timeframe. That’s a pretty good bang for your buck if he does sign for just $3 million.

Cons: Richardson posted a career-low overall PFF grade (62.1) and his second-lowest grades as a run defender (61.0) and pass rusher (60.9) this past season. He also didn’t earn a starting job in Minnesota until the end of last season, and he will turn 32-years-old in November. In other words, he might be on the decline and is in the twilight of his career.

Tim Settle

Washington Football Team v New York Giants
Tim Settle
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

PFF Projected Contract: 1 year, $4.25 million

Age 24.6

Pros: Settle has been a solid and productive pass rusher when called upon, but he’s been buried on Washington’s depth chart behind Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis. While Settle only had 10 pressures last season, that was on just 111 opportunities, and he had a 13.1 percent pass rush win-rate which was the third-highest among Washington’s defensive linemen, right behind Allen and Chase Young. The four-year veteran will only be 25-years-old in July, so he also brings some future value to the table.

Cons: As is the case with any player that has performed well in a small sample size, there’s a legitimate concern of whether or not said level of play/production is sustainable. While sure, a one-year deal would alleviate some of that anxiety, it also kind of negates any “pro” about his future value with the team. Also, the Raiders aren’t in a great situation to be taking risks at the position with so few defensive tackles on the roster. As far as Settle’s play on the field, he’s shaky as a run defender with 60 or lower PFF run-defense grades in three out of four seasons and a 62.4 mark in the other.

DaQuan Jones

Carolina Panthers v New York Giants
DaQuan Jones
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

PFF Projected Contract: 2 years, $5.75 million per year

Age: 30.2

Pros: Jones has been a stout run defender for the majority of his career. He had a stretch from 2015 to 2019 where he recorded a PFF run-defense grade lower than 75 once, and he’s accumulated 86 defensive stops over the last four seasons. That type of production against the run was something the Raiders defense was missing last year and could obviously use heading into 2022.

Cons: With Billings now in the building, Las Vegas already has a space-eating nose tackle who doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. Competition isn’t a bad thing but the Raiders should probably focus more on adding players that compliment each other with how little cap space and few defensive tackles they have. Also, Jones has regressed over the last couple of years with run defense grades of 63.6 and 59.5, respectively.

Derrick Nnadi

NFL: Super Bowl LIV-San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Nnadi
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Projected Contract: 2 years, $5.75 million per year

Age: 25.8

Pros: For one, the Silver and Black would be taking away a quality player from its most-hated rival. Nnadi has always been a strong run defender with 75 career defensive stops and run defense grades of 70 or better in three out of four seasons. He’s also pretty young as he doesn’t turn 26-years-old until May.

Cons: To a lesser extent than Settle, Nnadi has never proven that he can be an every-down player. While he has started a lot of games, he’s been a part of a defensive line rotation and has recorded more than 500 total snaps in the regular season once in four seasons. Plus, he offers little to nothing as a pass rusher with just 51 career pressures in 64 games. Ending last season with a 51.3 PFF overall grade doesn’t help the former Chief’s case either.

Ndamukong Suh

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Ndamukong Suh
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

PFF Projected Contract: 1 year, $5 million

Age: 35.1

Pro: By far the most recognizable name on this list, Suh would bring a pedigree to the Raiders’ defensive line that it’s currently missing. He’s a three-time All-Pro and Super Bowl Champion who’s durable and managed to start all 19 of the Buccaneers’ games last season. In fact, the 12-year pro has only missed two games in his entire career, so he’s ultra-dependable.

Cons: It’s been pretty noticeable to anyone that’s paid attention over the last few years that Suh has lost a step. He recorded his two lowest PFF grades in 2021 (52.4) and 2020 (62.4) since his first two years in the league. Even from 2020 to 2021, he saw a significant dip in his production, going from 62 pressures to 43 and 31 defensive stops to 18. Not ideal for a player in their mid-30s.