Oakland Raiders Overhaul Linebacking Corps Through Free Agency
The Oakland Raiders continued their linebacker overhaul by adding former Miami Dolphins outside backer Kevin Burnett on Sunday, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Burnett was cut by Miami not long before signing departed Raider linebacker Phillip Wheeler.
This shrewd makeover at the backer spot has also included the additions of Kaluka Maiava and Nick Roach, each presumed to be in the running for starting spots next season. Oakland is also expected to release downhill-thumping linebacker Rolando McClain to fully transition to a new rotation under head coach Dennis Allen.
Oakland finished 18th against the run and 20th against the pass last season, while the linebacking corps in particular produced mixed results. Recently-departed Wheeler ranked sixth among outside linebackers in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus grading while incumbent Miles Burris finished dead-last. Meanwhile, McClain finished a fairly decent 11th by the same metric.
However, McClain has had his share of off-field issues, including an incident in January where he was charged for reportedly giving a false name to a police officer upon receiving a traffic citation and scribbling an expletive on said citation.
Roach, Burris, Burnett and Maiava are expected to compete for the vacant starting spots. In 2012, PFF graded Burnett at fourth, Maiava at seventh and Nick Roach at 28th out of 43 qualifying 4-3 outside linebackers. Nick Roach did, however, switch over to start at middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears in Week 14 last season. He closed out the season filling Brian Urlacher’s shoes before hitting free agency after the season.