Raiders Told to Reunite With Former $26 Million Sack Leader

The Las Vegas Raiders defensive line is set to be a position of strength for the team this offseason. However, they could be a little too top-heavy if Tyree Wilson doesn’t take a leap in Year 2.

The Raiders haven’t invested heavily in the secondary this offseason so they could be focusing on building the best defensive line possible. According to Aaron Schatz of ESPN, the team should strongly consider adding free agent defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

“The Raiders have a superstar edge rusher in Maxx Crosby but a real depth problem behind him,” Schatz wrote in a June 20 column. “Right now, the plan is to move Tyree Wilson inside, leaving Malcolm Koonce starting on the edge. Koonce had a surprisingly strong season in 2023, with eight sacks and 31 pressures against defenses that were busy double-teaming Crosby. Behind him, though, are all veteran journeymen and young free agents. If the Raiders bring in Ngakoue, they’ll have a steady veteran edge rusher who can rotate with Koonce and give the team something if Crosby or Koonce miss time with an injury.”

Ngakoue played for the Raiders in 2021 and led the team with 10.0 sacks. While the coaching staff is very different now, he should still have a rapport with Maxx Crosby.

Do Las Vegas Raiders Need Another DE?

Defensive end is one of the strongest position groups of the Raiders right now. Crosby is an All-Pro, Koonce had a breakout year last season and Wilson was the No. 7 pick in the draft just a year ago. Adding a player like Ngakoue isn’t a huge necessity but it could still be a wise move.

Ngakoue has deficiencies in run defense but has proven to be an effective pass rusher. He’s had 8.0 sacks or more in every season he’s played except one. He’d be an asset as a situational pass rusher. He’s also proven to have leadership ability as he was a team captain during his season with the Raiders. He wouldn’t cost much so there isn’t much risk of adding him to the roster.

Tyree Wilson Hoping to Improve in Year 2

Wilson was still recovering from an injury he suffered in college when he joined the Raiders. This led to him missing many of the offseason team activities and a portion of training camp. He’s now getting a full offseason with the team and is hoping to improve after a rough rookie season.

“I feel like it starts off the field. You’ve got to have good weight, good eating habits, sleeping habits to be the best on the field,” Wilson told reporters during his May 21 media availability. “I learned that from a leader in the room, Maxx Crosby. So, I tried to work with him all offseason to improve my game on the field … He just pushed me to be better. He’d always asked me like, ‘What are you eating? Who’s your nutritionist? How are you stretching?’ Just stuff that just makes me better, like he does.”

Wilson has all the talent to be a very good pass rusher but needs time to develop. The Raiders will likely start the season with Koonce as a starter but there’s a chance Wilson’s role will increase as the season goes on.

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