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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Dennis Allen on defensive options

By Bill Williamson

Predictably, Oakland coach Dennis Allen didn’t come out and directly answer the question whether the Oakland Raiders will move to a 3-4 defense.

He said Tuesday that the team will be "multiple" in its alignments. But by the sound of his answer it seems like Allen is not going to shed his beliefs and adopt a new system. Oakland ran a 4-3 base defense last season.

“When I took the job, not only in Denver but when I took the job in Oakland, I believed in the ability to be multiple,” Allen said. “I like to be multiple but yet simple, and that's again, easier said than done sometimes. So I think now the fact that we have four starting-caliber linebackers, that's going to give us the ability to be more multiple. ... We spent a whole year putting in a defense and putting in a system of what we believe in. That core of what we believe in is not going to change. Now, we've got more ability and more flexibility in some of the things we can do, and we can add some things that we feel like can present some problems for the offense.”

It will be interesting to see how it develops in training camp and early in the season. There is no question that Oakland has pieces for both defenses. The versatility starts at linebacker.

The Raiders signed linebackers Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett and Kaluka Maiava. Plus, they have promising second-year linebacker Miles Burris. Allen said Tuesday that Roach is a 4-3 middle linebacker, not a 3-4 linebacker. However, Burnett is a 3-4 linebacker. So, Oakland has options.

There is a risk here in having some players to fit some schemes and some who fit others. The key will be to build depth and get enough quality players for each set.

But by reading into Allen’s words Tuesday, it would be a surprise if the Raiders stray from their current system.

Major tip to NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert for asking this question for me Tuesday at the NFL owners meeting.

The Raiders’ website has more of Allen’s comments from Tuesday’s owners meeting.

In other AFC West notes:

NFL Network reported the agent for Rolando McClain asked the Raiders to try to trade McClain. There won’t be a huge market for a slow, first-round bust with off-field issues. At some point, a decision is going to have to be made.

Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has been cleared to work out after a heart issue kept him out of the NFL combine. He could potentially be a target of Kansas City with the No. 1 pick.

Please check out our free-agent tracker for updated free-agency movement.