One of the best developments for the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2023 season has been the vast improvements made by third-year pass-rusher Malcolm Koonce.
The 2021 third-round pick has become a key part of the defense and in recent weeks has become one of the more consistent pass-rushers in the NFL.
He is exactly the help that superstar pass-rusher Maxx Crosby needs.
In a season where big-dollar free agent Chandler Jones never played a down and was released because of personal reasons and in which first-round pick Tyree Wilson has been slow to develop, Koonce has been a true find for the Raiders.
Malcolm Koonce has recorded 4+ QB pressures in 5 straight games pic.twitter.com/3imymyqL0s— PFF Las Vegas Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) December 18, 2023
He’s still a part-time player because he’s mostly playing on passing downs. He is usually playing in the 40-percent range, but he played 61 percent of the snaps in Week 15 against Minnesota and he played 51 percent of the snaps against the Chargers.
He was one of the Raiders’ many stars in the wild 63-21 win over the Chargers. He had two strip sacks in which the Raiders recovered the fumble, including a touchdown return by John Jenkins.
Koonce didn’t play much in his first two NFL seasons, but has come on strong in his third season. That, of course, gives hope that he will take even bigger steps in his fourth NFL season in 2024.
That could possibility give the Raiders’ an interesting decision to make in the offseason. He will be eligible for a contract extension. It might be something the Raiders’ front office will consider.
Of course, a lot will depend on who is making the decisions. The team could keep interim general manager Champ Kelly or owner Mark Davis could make an outside hire.
No matter who is running the show, Koonce will likely be valued. Young pass-rushers are at a premium.
Koonce, though, may not want to sign a new deal. He could want to play out his rookie contract and then see what happens. If he has a big fourth season he could be setup for a very nice payday on the open market, because pass-rushers get paid in free agency.
Regardless what happens, Koonce now looks like a foundation player and that didn’t seem to be the case heading into the season.
Should Raiders try to extend Malcolm Koonce’s contract in the offseason?
This poll is closed
Let’s see what he does next year