Reggie McKenzie worried the fans a little bit with all of the cuts he has made in the last few days. However, the Oakland Raiders are in a better position now at linebacker than where they were just three days ago.
Oakland lost a tremendous player in Philip Wheeler, but picked up Nick Roach to help ease the pain at linebacker. Roach has started for the Chicago Bears defense the past five years and will help lead a young corps of linebackers for the next three years.
The signing is the biggest splash the Raiders have made in free agency so far this season and it proves Oakland is trying to be smart with its money. It is clear McKenzie is trying to rebuild this roster with young, talented players and Roach fits the bill in this regard. His cap-friendly salary is also helpful moving forward and gives McKenzie more flexibility moving forward.
On the field, Roach will be a major asset after having six years to soak in the wisdom of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher in Chicago. Although Roach is not going to be a big pass rushing threat, his ability to find and tackle the ball carrier is crucial. He may not have had a season with more than 80 tackles, but he has the talent to accumulate well more than 100 tackles next season.
As the best linebacker next season, Roach will have a lot of pressure on him to help this defense get better. If McKenzie can find a bona fide defensive starter in the NFL Draft and another solid starter in free agency, Oakland may be able to make some noise next year.