Why the Oakland Raiders should pass on signing linebacker Zach Orr, who recently ended his early retirement from the NFL.
The Oakland Raiders are still in need of linebacker, and a new name just popped up on the open market. Former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr has decided to cancel his early retirement and re-join the league.
Orr, who is still just 25 years old, announced his retirement after the 2016 season due to a neck/spine condition. The announcement came as a shock, especially considering the strong year he just had, earning second-team All-Pro honors. He totaled 133 tackles before finishing the season on injured reserve.
So with the news that Orr will be attempting a comeback, should the Raiders pull the trigger and sign him?
There is not question that the Raiders linebacker corps needs some help, which has been the case for the last few seasons. With Malcolm Smith gone and Perry Riley still up in the air, the current depth chart looks like this:
SLB: Bruce Irvin, Shilique Calhoun, James Cowser, Andy Mulumba and Najee Harris.
MLB: Cory James, Ben Heeney, Marquel Lee, Xavier Woodson-Luster and LaTroy Lewis.
WLB: Jelani Jenkins, Tyrell Adams, Neiron Ball, and Nicholas Morrow.
Jack Del Rio has even expressed his thoughts on the position:
"“I don’t know that we’ve adequately addressed our middle linebacker position.” said Del Rio on NFL Network."
Linebacker is a position of need and that is evident on the depth chart. There is not much experience and that should be an area to watch as we head towards the season. But, I do not think that Zach Orr is the answer.
That is solely because of the risk factor. Neck injuries are no joke in the NFL, or anywhere for that matter. They are very serious. Here is what NFL.com’s, Mike Garafolo, had to say about the injury:
"Doctors initially told Orr he was at risk of death or paralysis by playing with the condition, which he’s had since birth. But former Baylor quarterback Seth Russell told Orr he should visit Sanford Emery, a West Virginia spine specialist who treated Russell when he suffered a neck injury in 2015.Russell’s advice sparked another round of medical evaluations. Orr said several doctors have told him he’s at no more risk of serious injury than a player with a fully formed spine. Doctors told Orr their only concern would be if he played with herniated discs. The herniated discs he suffered last season have subsided."
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It is encouraging to see that he has made improvement in his recoveries and the herniated discs have become less severe. But there is still a serious level of risk involved. For this reason alone, the Raiders would be better off re-signing Perry Riley.
Last season, Riley came in off the street and played quite well. The veteran posted 48 combined tackles with two forced fumbles in only 11 games, plus he has experience in the scheme already and the defense seemed to get better when he arrived.
Orr is a fantastic player and I wish him the best but, at this time, I do not think the Raiders should take on the risk. It has been shown that they are being patient with their LB corps and want to see what they have first. There’s also Marquel Lee, and it’s worth seeing what he brings to the table.