Oakland Raiders' Options to Replace Rolando McClain

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 13, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30: Miles Burris #56 of the Oakland Raiders goes for a tackle against the San Diego Chargers on December 30, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

It is more than certain that Rolando McClain has played his last game for the Oakland Raiders.  The former first-round pick has never come close to producing at a rate that you would expect from your first-round middle linebacker—top-10 middle linebacker no less.

There are a few possible options for replacing McClain and one of them is already on the roster.


Miles Burris

Nothing is set in stone, but it is possible for the outside linebacker coming off of a strong rookie season to move over to the inside position.  Burris looked like a steal considering he was taken in the fourth round and expected to back up Aaron Curry coming into the season.


If the Raiders were to draft an outside linebacker with the third overall pick in the draft (such as Jarvis Jones) and re-sign Philip Wheeler, then they have the option to move Burris to the middle.

Burris' experience under Jason Tarver and Dennis Allen's defense give him an advantage over anyone else on the list.


Omar Gaither

Gaither was one of the many additions to the Raiders defense during the season as the amount of injuries and under-performing players grew.

Gaither held the starting spot in the middle at the end of the season, so the job is his until someone takes it from him—which won't be hard to do.


Gaither is a free agent and the Raiders would be wise to re-sign him to a cheap contract for at least depth and possibly special teams.  Gaither actually looked respectable filling in for McClain, but that could have been because anyone would have looked good replacing McClain.


Manti Te'o

To get Te'o in a reasonable way, the Raiders would need to do some work.  The Raiders could surely trade down in the draft and pick up Te'o, maybe in the No. 10 to No. 15 range.

Te'o was a very good middle linebacker for Notre Dame despite a bad showing in the National Championship game against Alabama.  

It is a new era in Raiders football. So maybe the whole fake girlfriend story and character issues won't fit in as well now as it would have with guys like Ted Hendricks and John Matuszak, but with that whole story aside, Te'o can play.  

Te'o would not be worth using the third pick for in the draft, so if the Raiders stay there, Te'o would not be a good value for them.

If the Raiders bypass Te'o, they can still find another option in the middle rounds if they were to draft their next middle linebacker.


Nick Barnett

Barnett is the wild card on this list.  Barnett is an outside linebacker, so a position change would need to be in order.  He is also an unrestricted free agent, so he would need to be in the Raiders' price range.


The reason Barnett makes this list is because he has ties to Reggie McKenzie from Green Bay and also linebackers coach Bob Sanders from Buffalo.  

Barnett's familiarity with Sanders and McKenzie could make him attractive to Oakland. But like I said, he is a long shot because he would need to change positions and learn a new defense.

If the Raiders were to convert an outside linebacker, it would likely be Burris because of his aforementioned experience in the system.

With free agency still several weeks away, it is too unclear as to who will be available besides Barnett because he has already been cut by the Bills.

These are just a few options for the Raiders to consider at this point in the offseason.