Monday, February 4, 2013
Change in store for Oakland's defensive line
By Bill Williamson
For the second straight year, as the new brass tries to rebuild, the Oakland Raiders will likely undergo major change this offseason.
A place where serious change could occur is on the defensive line as the team tries to get younger and cheaper all the while trying to get better. A couple of years ago, the Raiders had one of the most physical, fiercest defensive lines in the NFL. But in 2012, the unit got old, and it its overall production waned.
Thus, change is in store.
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour is a free agent and very likely will not return. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly’s production fell as well in 2012, and he is a top candidate to be cut, because Oakland is currently over the salary cap for 2013. Kelly, 32, reportedly has a salary cap number of more than 11 million in 2013. He has two years remaining on his contract. The Raiders reportedly could save more than $7 million if they cut Kelly.
So, at this point, it would be surprised if he is kept.
The change on the line doesn’t just affect the inside players. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is a free agent. He was once considered a potential standout, but his play slipped in 2012 and he lost playing time to fellow free-agent Andre Carter, who was signed during the season.
Desmond Bryant is also a free agent. At times, he was one of Oakland’s best defensive linemen last season. Bryant could get interest on the open market.
Thus, Oakland might have to find a way to replenish a lot of positions on the line. Its anchor is Lamarr Houston, who, at times, looks like an upper-echelon lineman. Houston is versatile and can play across the line.
The Raiders will give 2012 draft choices Christo Bilukidi (defensive tackle) and Jack Crawford (defensive end) a chance to develop in 2013. They showed nice promise as rookies.
There is a strong chance Oakland will use the No. 3 overall pick on a defensive lineman. The top candidates are ends Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Barkevious Mingo (LSU) and Bjoern Werner (Florida State), and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Utah).
Change is a theme in Oakland again, and it might start on the defensive line.