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Mailbag: Could the Raiders trade for a linebacker?

Answering Raider Nation’s questions

New England Patriots v Arizona Cardinals
Isaiah Simmons
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is fully in the rearview mirror for the Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the NFL as the dog days of summer are steadily approaching. Make sure to get any questions you have in mind submitted as the regular season will be here sooner than you think!

Question: With the current state of our secondary/LBs, do you believe the Raiders will be aggressive post-June 1st on improving these areas? Specifically via trade. If so, who would your preferred trade targets be, and what would you consider fair/reasonable compensation?

Answer: I get the feeling they’re done adding any noteworthy players at those positions as they had plenty of opportunities to do so during the draft and passed. That being said, I am a fan of the Christopher Smith II and Jakorkian Bennett pickups as a side note.

But if they do make a trade, I could see them going after linebacker Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, making him a free agent at the end of the season, so the Cardinals could look to get something for him and I think a fourth- or fifth-round pick would be fair compensation.

Simmons fits the mold that Patrick Graham seems to look for in linebackers as the hybrid safety type who can cover. However, the issue with trading for him is that they would then have to pay him to keep him around beyond this season and if that’s the case, why not wait until the offseason and keep the pick?

Another Cardinal to keep an eye on would be safety Budda Baker, who reportedly requested a trade last month. However, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said on The Pat McAfee Show that Arizona isn’t interested in trading Baker, so it doesn’t sound like that deal will even get off the ground.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t expect the Raiders to make a big move before training camp.

Q: How much does Tre Tucker remind you of Jacoby Ford when running end-around, catching bubble screens, and his return ability? If the Raiders get Jacoby Ford's production out of him, do the fans still think it was a reach of a pick?

A: I can see where you’re coming from with that as Ford and Tucker have similar skill sets and physical profiles (see the RAS comparison below). The Raiders can definitely use Tucker like a gadget player and get creative with how they get the ball in his hands. However, I have a hard time seeing him being as productive and as impactful as Ford was with the current roster.

Part of the reason why Ford made so many impact plays in the early 2010s was he was competing for touches with wideouts like Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. No offense to those guys but they aren’t exactly on Davante Adams’, Hunter Renfrow’s and Jakobi Meyers’ level. So, I think it will be hard for Tucker to put up decent numbers for the first year or two of his career like Ford did.

As for predicting what Raider Nation will think/how they will react to something, I think I’d have a better chance at picking the correct lottery numbers! Lol.

Jacoby Ford vs Tre Tucker RAS comparison
Jacoby Ford vs Tre Tucker RAS comparison

Q: Is there a real scenario where Jimmy G plays well enough to keep the Raiders from drafting a QB?

A: Potentially, but the odds aren’t high. If Garoppolo plays well with the plethora of weapons he’ll have and the Raiders manage to make the playoffs, I could see them rolling with him for another year and staying patient at quarterback. That’d also mean they would have a later first-round pick which would trading up more difficult, too. But even then, it’s still likely they draft someone as Jimmy G will be turning 33.

Q: Raiders Twitter keeps talking about McClendon Curtis starting at guard like that’s some amazing thing and not that it’s awful. Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is ideal?

A: I think the chances Curtis starts Week 1 are very low as the battle at right guard will likely come down to Alex Bars and Neante Muti, or maybe Jermaine Eluemunor if Thayer Munford can take over at right tackle. It’s way too early to be worrying about this, but if Curtis is starting that is concerning. To be honest though, they don’t really have a player who isn’t a risk at that spot.

That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, or email them to