It was a rough opening day of free agency for the Oakland Raiders as they not only released two former first-round picks, but they also watched their two highest priorities sign lucrative contracts elsewhere.
One of those priorities was Philip Wheeler, who is now Miami-bound with a five year deal worth $26 million. The other one of those priorities was Desmond Bryant, who went to the Cleveland Browns for a similar contract.
Bryant was expected for the last few years to be the future of the Raiders defensive line, as he sat on the bench behind the once-formidable tandem of Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour.
Now, Seymour is an unrestricted free agent who is looking for a large contract that the Raiders can't afford, and Bryant is going to Cleveland.
The third man in the group, Tommy Kelly, is the only one still under contract with the Raiders. He has been seen as a candidate to be cut and even he thought he was on his way out.
Now, the Raiders need Kelly more than ever if they want to be at least decent on the defensive line. The Raiders are so low on depth that losing Kelly would leave them with just one defensive tackle who has played in an NFL game (Christo Bilukidi).
The Raiders are in rebuilding mode so it is still possible that Kelly could be released anytime now, but the Raiders will be in a dire situation if they lose him as well as Bryant and Seymour.
Kelly had a down year last year getting to the quarterback for just one-and-a-half sacks in 16 games and if he does not restructure his contract and take a pay cut, he should be released.
If the Raiders are moving to a 3-4 defense and are able to draft Star Lotulelei or another respectable defensive tackle later in the draft, then they will be in much better shape on the defensive line.
If the Raiders don't get a quality defensive tackle in the draft or free agency and proceed to cut Kelly, their defense will regress so badly in 2013 that even Chuck Bresnahan won't be able to watch.
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