3 Available NFL Free Agents Who Can Still Help Raiders

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2021

3 Available NFL Free Agents Who Can Still Help Raiders

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    The Las Vegas Raiders got back in the win column in their first game under interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. 

    Given the circumstances, it was a huge victory that brings a real sense of hope to the team. The Raiders entered the game on the heels of back-to-back losses and the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden. 

    Now, the team is 4-2 with a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, a bye week and a trip to New York to see the Giants on the horizon. In essence, the Raiders have a good chance at being 6-2 as they approach the back half of the schedule. 

    That's a good place to be in and puts the club in a position to continue to look how it can get better going into the more difficult part of the schedule. With the playoffs in mind, the Raiders can certainly look to shore up some areas. 

    Bringing in some veteran help could help stabilize the ship and raise the ceiling of a team that is already looking good through its first six games. 

    Here's a look at a few names who are available and could help. 

OG David DeCastro

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    The offensive line had one of its best performances against the Denver Broncos, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. 

    Specifically, it's hard to be too confident about John Simpson at left guard. The 24-year-old has played every offensive snap this season, and the results haven't been great. He's currently posting a 46.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, making him the 68th-graded guard out of 79. 

    Alex Leatherwood has been even worse on the right side, earning the 78th grade. He is likely to continue to get chances. After all, he was the team's first-round pick with the No. 17 selection in the 2021 draft. 

    Still, as the playoffs get nearer and the Raiders remain in the hunt, the time for testing and seeing whether a player will develop is over. They are going to need steady play on the interior of the offensive line. 

    The return of Richie Incognito from the injured reserve list should help, but bringing in David DeCastro would help too. He was a surprise cut by the Steelers this preseason after posting a solid 64.1 grade from PFF. 

    The 31-year-old told Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after he was cut that he would need ankle surgery, but he's had time to heal since then.

    DeCastro may be interested in retiring, but the opportunity to contribute on a contender could sway him to make a run at it. 

OT Rick Wagner

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    Again, the offensive line is coming off a strong performance as a whole, but right tackle Brandon Parker continues to be a turnstile.

    According to PFF, the team only allowed 17 pressures to the tenacious Broncos front, and the 25-year-old was responsible for the most with four. 

    That just continues a trend for Parker, who is the worst-graded tackle by PFF. Obviously, the idea behind drafting Alex Leatherwood was to replace the North Carolina A&T product, who struggled last season but whose performance at guard shouldn't be a vote of confidence for him to move back to the outside this year. 

    Instead, the Raiders should allow him to continue working on the inside and hone his craft there. His long-term future might still be at tackle, but the consistency of sticking to guard could help his in-season development. 

    Signing Rick Wagner would allow the Raiders to go forward with that plan. He registered a 77.0 grade with PFF on 610 snaps and only allowed one sack while playing tackle. That's solid production, and the fact that he isn't on an NFL roster right now is baffling. 

    Again, this could be a case of the Raiders having to talk the 31-year-old out of retirement, but it's worth a shot because of the high floor he would bring to the position. 

Edge Olivier Vernon

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    Maxx Crosby is playing at an All-Pro caliber this season, while Yannick Ngakoue is living up to his end of the bargain after cashing in on free agency. The Raiders have one of the best 1-2 punches on the edge this season. 

    According to Sports Info Solutions, Crosby is second among all edge-rushers in total pressures, and Ngakoue isn't far behind at 13th. 

    There isn't another defender with double-digit pressures through six games. 

    Strong pass-rushers are something a team really can't get enough of. While the Raiders have multiple players who can rotate on the inside and help with the run defense, they just haven't got much from Clelin Ferrell as their third pass-rusher. 

    At this point, it would be worth the Raiders exploring options to help them add depth. One option may be Olivier Vernon. He enjoyed one of his most productive seasons with the Cleveland Browns last year but unfortunately tore his Achilles at the end of the season. 

    It's pretty much kept the 31-year-old from signing with anyone at this point, but if he's healthy enough to get cleared, he would make a strong addition and bring another veteran presence into the locker room. 

             

    All advanced statistics and snap counts via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted. 

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